Q3 2022 Ratings: MSNBC Is No. 2 Basic Cable Network and Gains Total Viewers

By A.J. Katz 

MSNBC continues to average the second-largest audience on cable news … and second-largest audience on all of basic cable. NBCU’s politics-focused channel averaged 1.28 million viewers in primetime and 783,000 total viewers in the 24-hour time period during the third quarter of 2022.

In addition to being the second-most-watched basic cable network, MSNBC posted growth from Q2, primarily driven by Jan. 6 committee hearings coverage, which were broadcast live throughout the third quarter (June, July), and attracted millions of viewers to the network. MSNBC also garnered large total audiences for their August coverage of the FBI search for classified documents at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate. The network gained +13% in total primetime viewers, +5% in the primetime demo, +14% in total day viewers and +10% in the total day demo versus from the previous quarter (Q2 ’22).

Relative to Q3 of last year, an especially poor one for the network, MSNBC gained back +6% in total day viewers, +2% in the total day demo, and +1% in total primetime viewers. However, the network did shed a fifth of its A25-54 audience from Q3 2021, perhaps hurt by Rachel Maddow now trimming her primetime appearances from daily to weekly.


MSNBC beat CNN in total viewers, but fell short to its rival when it came to drawing adults 25-54 (and predictably fell short to Fox News in both measurements). MSNBC was the No. 22 basic cable network in the primetime demo and No. 17 in the total day demo during Q3.

Here are MSNBC’s ratings for Q3 2022:

  • Prime time (Mon-Sun): 1,277,000 total viewers /  127,000 A25-54
  • Total Day (Mon-Sun):   783,000 total viewers / 85,000 A25-54

In terms of programming, Morning Joe beat CNN New Day for the 30th straight quarter in total viewers. It also beat New Day in the key A25-54 demographic. We’ll see if that remains the case once CNN launches its new morning offering next month.

No MSNBC shows were able to beat Fox News shows, either in adults 25-54 or in total viewers (although Nicolle Wallace came quite close). However, the following MSNBC shows beat their timeslot competition from CNN in total viewers (but not A25-54): Deadline: White House from 4-6 p.m. for the 21st straight quarter; The Beat with Ari Melber at 6 p.m. for the 21st straight quarter; The ReidOut at 7 p.m. for the 9th straight quarter; All In with Chris Hayes at 8 p.m. for the 23rd straight quarter; The Rachel Maddow Show/Alex Wagner Tonight at 9 p.m. for the 52nd straight quarter; The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell at 10 p.m. for the 29th straight quarter and The 11th Hour/The 11th Hour with Stephanie Ruhle at 11 p.m. for the 24th straight quarter.

MSNBC fell short to CNN each of the aforementioned hours, with the exception of 9 p.m.

Here’s the MSNBC Q3 ’22 Nielsen ratings press release:


MSNBC Delivers Viewership Growth Over 3Q21, Double-Digit Growth Over 2Q22

MSNBC Primetime Ranks #2 in Cable Television, Doubling CNN’s Viewership and Beating CNN for the 26th Straight Quarter

MSNBC Dayside Ranks #2 Across All of Cable

“Morning Joe” Continues to Dominate Mornings, Ranks #2 Across All of Cable and Beats CNN Among Total Viewers and A25-54 Viewers

MSNBC Ranks #2 in the 9pm Hour Across All of Cable, Extends 9pm Winning Streak Over CNN to 52 Quarters in a Row

MSNBC Digital Text Delivers Triple-Digit Growth

MSNBC Ranks #1 Across All of TV During January 6th Hearings, Outpaces CNN During Coverage of Mar-a-Lago FBI Search 

MSNBC is #1 Cable Network in African American Viewership

Viewers Watch MSNBC for an Average of 382 Minutes Per Week, Doubling CNN Viewer Average

NEW YORK (September 27, 2022) – MSNBC ranked #2 across all of cable television in the 3rd quarter of 2022 and topped CNN for the 7th straight quarter, according to Nielsen. Compared to the same quarter a year ago, MSNBC delivered viewership growth in total day and dayside. MSNBC was a top destination for major news events, drawing the largest audience of any TV network during July’s January 6th hearings and topping CNN during August coverage of the FBI search for classified documents at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.

In 3Q22, MSNBC’s breaking news coverage and analysis powered the network to #2 across all of cable with 881,000 viewers (vs. CNN’s 619K), beating CNN for the 21st time in the last 22 quarters. Viewership in the daypart was up +6% versus 3Q21 and up +15% versus 2Q22. Among A25-54, total day averaged 93K viewers.

MSNBC primetime (M-F 8pm-11pm) more than doubled CNN’s total viewership for the third time in the past four quarters, delivering 1.6M viewers (vs. CNN’s 788K). MSNBC finished #2 among cable networks in primetime for the 2nd quarter in a row and topped CNN for the 26th quarter in a row. Among A25-54, prime delivered 163K viewers. From 4pm to midnight, MSNBC (1.4M viewers) grew its audience by +7% year over year and beat CNN for the 23rd straight quarter.

In dayside (M-F 10am-4pm), MSNBC also ranked #2 across all of cable, drawing 807K total viewers (vs. CNN’s 764K). Dayside topped CNN for the 2nd quarter in a row. In A25-54, dayside drew 88K viewers.

In the mornings (M-F 6am-10am), MSNBC finished the quarter as the #2 cable network for the 17th time in 18 quarters (MSNBC was #1 in 1Q21). “Morning Joe” (912K viewers) drew +7% more viewers than a year ago, doubled CNN’s average audience (450K), and beat CNN for the 30th consecutive quarter. Among A25-54, “Morning Joe” delivered 102K viewers (vs. CNN’s 88K), beating CNN for the 2nd consecutive quarter. During “Morning Joe,” MSNBC ranked #1 across all of cable among African American viewers (207k), ahead of #3 CNN (110K) and #36 FOX News (17K).

During the 9pm hour, MSNBC averaged 1.7M total viewers in 3Q22, ranking #2 across all of cable and topping CNN for the 52nd consecutive quarter. “The Rachel Maddow Show” (Monday 9pm) averaged 2.5M viewers, up +42% versus the prior quarter and up +15% year over year. Among A25-54, “The Rachel Maddow Show” (258K) was up +25% versus the prior quarter. Premiering in mid-August, “Alex Wagner Tonight” (Tuesday-Friday 9pm) averaged 1.6M viewers, a +36% increase versus “MSNBC Prime” (Tuesday-Friday 9pm) during the previous quarter. Among A25-54, “Alex Wagner Tonight” (148K) was up +33% versus “MSNBC Prime” during the prior quarter.

The following shows also topped CNN for the quarter in total viewers: “Way Too Early with Jonathan Lemire” at 5am; “José Díaz-Balart Reports” at 10am; “Andrea Mitchell Reports” at 12pm; “Chris Jansing Reports” at 1pm; “Katy Tur Reports” at 2pm; “Hallie Jackson Reports” at 3pm; “Deadline: White House” from 4pm-6pm for the 9th straight quarter; “The Beat with Ari Melber” at 6pm for the 9th straight quarter; “The ReidOut” at 7pm for the 9th straight quarter; “All In with Chris Hayes” at 8pm for the 6th straight quarter; “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” for the 29th straight quarter; “The 11th Hour with Stephanie Ruhle” at 11pm for the 24th straight quarter and “Velshi” on weekends at 8am.

MSNBC’s live coverage of the first eight January 6th hearings (6/9-7/21) averaged 3.5 million viewers, making MSNBC the most-watched TV network for hearing coverage. Moreover, MSNBC dominated the cable news competition during the hearings, regularly topping the combined viewership of CNN and FOX News. MSNBC’s dayside coverage, including live hearings and pre- and post-hearing analysis, delivered four times as many viewers as time period norms among total viewers and A25-54. Primetime hearing recaps averaged three times as many viewers as CNN each night. During the final summer hearing on 7/21, MSNBC was #1 in primetime across all of television for the 8th time in network history. MSNBC was also a top destination for coverage of the Mar-a-Lago FBI search in August, beating CNN in total day, dayside, and primetime that month.

In September, MSNBC Digital text content is pacing to have one of its best months ever, up more than +125% versus the same month last year. The last eight months have been the brand’s strongest on record in total text page views. In July, MSNBC continued to rank ahead of CNN.com for a 17th straight month in video time spent per viewer.

MSNBC (M-SU 6am-6am) was #1 across all of cable among African American viewers (190K), ahead of #3 CNN (123K) and #46 FOX News (23K).

In 3Q22, viewers watched MSNBC for an average of 382 minutes per week, twice as many minutes as the average CNN viewer (191 minutes).

TV Source: Nielsen. Live+SD. Persons 2+ average audience unless indicated. 3Q22. Year-over-year comparisons to 3Q21. Total Day = M-Su 6am-2am. Primetime = M-F 8pm-11pm.Dayside = M-F 10am-4pm. “Morning Joe” = M-F 6am-10am. 9pm hour = M-F.

Source: Comscore Video Metrix® (July 2022) U.S. desktop internet population 2+ and mobile internet population 13+ years old. Adobe Analytics & Partner Portals, September 2022.

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