Week of Feb. 8 Cable Ranker: Coverage of a Second Trump Impeachment Trial Lifts MSNBC and CNN to Top Finishes

By A.J. Katz 

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MSNBC was the most-watched cable television network for the week of Feb. 8, both in total day and in prime time.

In addition to being the most-watched cable TV network during impeachment trial week, MSNBC has the most-watched host on cable: Rachel Maddow.

Friday, Feb. 12 marked the 28th straight day that The Rachel Maddow Show beat CNN and Fox News in average total viewers. TRMS drew more than 4 million total viewers, and 719,000 A25-54 viewers for the week, and hers was the No. 1 cable news show all five days last week.

Additionally, Morning Joe was the No. 1 morning show in both total viewers and A25-54 in the time period last week, both in total viewers and among adults 25-54. The MSNBC morning show has defeated its cable news competition for 30 days straight in total viewers.

As expected, left-leaning MSNBC posted more growth during Senate impeachment trial week than its competition. The network was up +14% in total prime time viewers, and +28% in the prime time demo vs. the previous week. The growth was even more significant across total day, which makes sense considering the Senate impeachment trial aired outside of the prime time daypart. The network was +32% in total day viewers, and +46% in the total day demo vs. the prior week.

MSNBC might have averaged the largest total audience in all relevant dayparts last week and posted the most week-to-week growth thanks to impeachment trial coverage, but CNN continues to set the standard when it comes to attracting adults 25-54, the key demo for cable news advertisers.

After weeks of post-inauguration viewership decline, the Senate impeachment trial gave CNN a nice ratings lift. The network grew +12% in total prime time viewers, +14% in the prime time demo, +25% in total day viewers and +28% in the total day demo.

Anderson Cooper ranked No. 1 at 8 p.m. among adults 25-54 (644,000), while Don Lemon won the 10 p.m. hour in the aforementioned demo (539,000).

CNN dominated the demo throughout the day, with the exception of that 9 p.m. hour, the most competitive on cable news featuring Sean Hannity, Chris Cuomo and Rachel Maddow. Cuomo beat Hannity in the demo, while Hannity beat Cuomo in total viewers.

CNN was the No. 2 network on all of cable in the prime time demo, only behind NBA-driven TNT.

Fox News averaged 2.6 million viewers in prime time, No. 2 on cable news, and 367,000 in the prime time demo, No. 3 on cable news. Tucker Carlson Tonight was the second-most-watched regularly-scheduled show on cable news last week, averaging 3.3 million viewers. On Sunday, Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo at 10 a.m. ET was No. 1 on cable news in total viewers (1.9 million) and among adults 25-54 (284,000).

Fox News was No. 3 behind MSNBC and CNN in total day, among both total viewers and adults 25-54.

Fox News posted week-to-week growth (granted it was less than MSNBC and CNN), a good sign for the network going forward. FNC was up +9% in total prime time viewers vs. the previous week, +4% in the prime time demo, +10% in total day viewers and +8% in the total day demo.

How did the networks fare relative to the year-ago week, one which featured the 2020 New Hampshire primary? MSNBC and CNN fared well, while Fox News didn’t fare quite as well.

FNC was down -20% in total prime time viewers, -25% in the prime time demo, -21% in total day viewers and -28% in the total day demo. MSNBC, on the other hand, grew +54% in total prime time viewers, +59% in the prime time demo. Total day growth was +95% in total viewers and +115% in the demo. Finally, CNN continues to show the most year-over-year growth. The network was up +108% in total prime time viewers, +91% in the prime time demo, +153% in total day viewers, and +151% in the total day demo vs. the same week one year ago.

The week of Feb 8, 2021, Monday-Sunday:

PRIME TIME MSNBC Fox News CNN
• Total Viewers: 2,583,000 2,580,000 2,020,000
• A25-54: 440,000 367,000 509,000

 

 

 

TOTAL DAY MSNBC CNN Fox News
• Total Viewers: 1,791,000 1,592,000 1,380,000
• A25-54: 297,000 391,000 215,000

 

 

 

Basic cable network ranker (by total viewers)

*Live+Same-Day Data

TOTAL DAY (6a – 6a) Network P2+(000)
1 MSNBC 1791
2 CNN 1592
3 Fox News 1380
4 HGTV 673
5 Hallmark 561
6 TNT 513
7 ID 510
8 Food Network 489
9 History 477
10 INSP 435
PRIME TIME (8-11p) Network P2+(000)
1 MSNBC 2583
1 Fox News 2580
3 CNN 2020
4 TNT 1150
5 HGTV 1089
6 Hallmark 994
7 History 981
8 TBS 828
9 Discovery 821
10 ESPN 794
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