In weekday primetime, MSNBC skirted past CNN both in overall audience (1.42M vs. 972K, respectively) and in the news demo (320K vs. 312K). It marks the first such Monday-Friday primetime win over CNN in more than two years.
For the full week, however, MSNBC’s 264K in the news demo fell short of CNN’s 272K, though MSNBC’s month-to-month percentage gain of 86% tops CNN’s 50%.
All that CNN vs MSNBC rivalry notwithstanding, Fox News Channel continued to dominate primetime in both metrics.
In the news demo, which is the metric on which news ads are sold, FNC averaged 374K viewers, which was a drop 29% compared with August 2015. In fairness, last August FNC aired the first GOP debate of the 2015-16 presidential election cycle, in which Donald Trump made his debut. That debate broke cable ratings records, clocking more than 24M viewers. Which explains why, in overall audience for August 2016, FNC’s 2.08M was similarly down, year-to-year, by 13%.
MSNBC, meanwhile, soared by 76% to 1.13M, trouncing CNN’s 844K, though even CNN was up year-to-year.
Anticipating next month’s cable-news ratings headlines: Last September, CNN telecast the second GOP debate of the cycle, which averaged about 23M viewers – CNN’s biggest audience in its 30-year history – and about 7M news-demo viewers, and it ran a full three hours long. Which means next month you stand a good chance of reading lots about how CNN is down in September compared to same month last year.
Getting back to August stats: Across the Monday-Friday work week, CNN trailed MSNBC from 7 PM (Hardball with Chris Matthews) through primetime, in total viewers, though CNN enjoyed its 26th consecutive monthly win in the news demo. Hardball scored its biggest total-viewer audience since November 2008, as well as its best news demo crowd since October of ’13.
But CNN’s Erin Burnett Outfront bested Matthews in the news demo for the 26th consecutive month, enjoying 47% growth. (CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 did same at 8 PM.)
And then there’s FNC’s On The Record with Greta Van Susteren, which beat both Matthews and Burnett at 7 PM, in both metrics. On the Record celebrated its 35th consecutive month as 7 PM’s No. 1 rated show, with 2M total viewers and 324K news-demo viewers.
Same story in weekday mornings. MSNBC’s Morning Joe topped CNN’s New Day in total viewers for the 18th straight month and, for the third month in a row, delivered the biggest total audience for the 6-9 AM time slot in MSNBC’s 20 year history.