CNN ratings rise in August, other networks down

Perhaps it is a matter of reaping what you sow.  Or maybe it’s just that August is a traditionally slow news month (if you don’t believe it’s a slow news month, why do you suppose I’m doing a story about cable news network ratings?).  Regardless, the folks at MSNBC have to be concerned with what their ratings numbers are telling them:


MSNBC continued its rough 2013 in the ratings, continuing to lose significant audience from 2012. The problems were particularly prevalent in primetime, with some shows losing close to -50% of viewers.

Losing 50% of your viewers on some of their primetime shows is likely not a “momentary blip”.  Instead, it’s probably something else a bit more dire.

Compared to August 2012, MSNBC was down -28% in total viewers and -32% in the A25-54 demographic in total day and -36% and -32%, respectively, in primetime. MSNBC was the only cable channel to see viewership growth last August, thanks in part to live coverage from the Olympics.

Hmmm … not pretty.  Those are very big numbers.  Obviously you have to factor in the Olympics as a big part of the slip, but MSNBC’s viewership was never particularly large to begin with.

Primetime shows:

In primetime, “The Rachel Maddow Show” posted all-time low ratings in total and demo viewers, down -43% and -47%, respectively. “The Last Word” posted a low in total viewers, losing -40% of its total viewer audience and -42% of its demo audience. at 8 PM, “All in” was down -48% and -42% in total and demo viewers, respectively, placing behind CNN for the hour.

Dude … if you’re behind CNN, well, you’re behind.



“Morning Joe” was down -9% in total viewers and -17% in the A25-54 demographic compared to the same month last year …

That could probably be attributed to the difference between an August with the Olympics and an August without them.


In dayside, MSNBC was down double digits in pretty much every hour in total and demo viewers, including 6 PM’s “PoliticsNation,” which was down -31% and -37% in total and demo viewers, and 3 PM’s “The Cycle,” which was down -15% and -18% in total and demo viewers.

In fact, everything was down except for one show.

One of the few programs to improve year to year was “The Ed Show” on Saturday and Sunday, which was up both days in total viewers, and in the demo on Saturday. This may help explain why the channel replaced the 5 PM edition of “Hardball” with the former weekend program.

That should tell you all  you need to know about most MSNBC viewers.

Total’s for the month:

  • Primetime (Mon-Sun): 520,000 Total Viewers / 173,000 A25-54
  • Total Day (Mon-Sun): 348,000 Total Viewers / 119,000 A25-54

Again, TV Newser points out that August is a slow news month and the comparison is made against August of last year that had Olympic coverage.


CNN actually posted positive numbers for August.  Perhaps some of their changes are beginning to have some effect, but, as the total numbers indicate, their viewership is still the lowest.


Compared to August 2012, CNN is up +9% in A25-54 and up +6% in total viewers in primetime, and up +13% in A25-54 and up +6% in total viewers in total day. Last August every cable news channel was down except for MSNBC, which benefited in part from Olympics coverage.

  • Primetime (Mon-Sun): 451,000 Total Viewers / 134,000 A25-54

  • Total Day (Mon-Sun): 346,000 Total Viewers / 108,000 A25-54

CNN is very close to MSNBC’s total day numbers and gaining in primetime.

And Fox?

Compared to August 2012, Fox News was down -10% in total viewers and -24% in the A25-54 demographic in total day. In primetime, the network was down -15% and -24%, respectively. The network was down in both total viewers and the A25-54 demographic in every hour of programming from 9am-11pmET, except for “The Five,” which was flat in total viewers and down -25% in the demo.

  • Primetime (Mon-Sun): 1,543,000 total viewers / 251,000 A25-54

  • Total Day Mon-Sun): 968,000 total viewers / 192,000 A25-54

Still not even close and that’s with Hannity down 21% in total viewers and 29% in demo and O’Reilly down 9% in total viewers and 25% in demo.

In fact:

Despite the year-over-year losses, Fox News notched the top 13 programs in total viewers and the top 11 programs in the demo in all of cable news this month.



Take heart, MSNBC, you could be Al Jazeera which launched it’s US network this week:

The 2 PM Saturday edition of “News Live” averaged 48,000 viewers, while “Inside Story” Thursday at 12:30 PM averaged 41,000 viewers. “News Live” Thursday from 12-12:30 averaged 40,000. The debut edition of “The Stream” on Tuesday averaged 38,000 viewers, below Nielsen’s accuracy threshold, while the debut of “America Tonight” averaged 34,000 viewers.

The launch hour, which was Tuesday afternoon at 3 PM, and featured a preview of what was to come on the channel, averaged 22,000 viewers, below Nielsen’s minimum accuracy threshold. In other words, Nielsen says it cannot accurately count how many people watched it, and the number it gives is essentially a rough guess. This is also called “scratching.”


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