CNN Notes Strong Total Day Performance in 2018

May Ratings Show Viewers Returning to CNN

CNN has hailed a “tremendous ratings success” in 2018, surpassing MSNBC in key dayparts and hours in the demographic adults 25-54.

CNN beat MSNBC in total day for the fifth straight year (217k vs MSNBC’s 200k), during dayside for the 22nd year (210k vs. MSNBC’s 176k) and overtook MSNBC on weekends each hour among adults 25-54.

In prime time, CNN had its third-best delivery in 10 years (334k; since 2008, behind only election year 2016 and inauguration year 2017), and best delivery ever during a midterm year (see chart below). In 2018, nearly all CNN news programs drew higher demo 25-54 audiences than MSNBC, posting near or above presidential election year levels. CNN Original Series also had banner ratings in 2018, with each series ranking #1 in cable news on Sundays in either total viewers and/or adults 25-54.

CNN 2018 Ratings Highlights

> In total day (6am-6am): CNN had its third-highest year on record in total viewers and third highest since 2008 among adults 25-54 (just behind election year 2016 and inauguration year 2017). By wide margins, this year was CNN’s most-watched midterm year ever in total day. This is also the first year in CNN’s history that the network topped 200k in the total day demo for three years in a row, including this midterm year (2018, 217k), last year’s inauguration year (2017, 257k) and the presidential election year of 2016 (234k).

> In prime time (both M-Su, M-F, 8-11pm): CNN had its third highest prime time in 10 years (since 2008) in both total viewers and adults 25-54 (following 2016, 2017). This is CNN’s most-watched prime time midterm year on record.

> During daytime (9am-4pm): CNN had its third-highest dayside on record in total viewers (behind 1995 and 2017) and third- highest dayside since 2001 among 25-54 (behind 2003 and 2017).

> In the morning (6-9am): 2018 is the network’s overall second-highest morning delivery on record among total viewers (behind only 2017) and third highest since 2002 in 25-54 (behind 2003 and 2017).

> Key CNN programs including New Day with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman, The Lead with Jake Tapper, The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, Erin Burnett Outfront, Anderson Cooper 360 and CNN Tonight with Don Lemon are all having either their second or third-best years on record among both demos. Cuomo Prime Time continues as CNN’s #1 program in both total viewers and adults 25-54.


Among ALL cable networks, CNN ranked #8 in total viewers in total day this year. This marks the second consecutive year that CNN is a Top 10 cable network among total viewers in total day. In M-F prime time, CNN ranked #10 in total viewers. In 2018, CNN had five of the Top 12 historical/non-fiction series in ALL of cable among adults 25-54, more than any other non-fiction, including the History Channel.

CNN Programs Surpass MSNBC

Key CNN programs including Early Start with Christine Romans and Dave Briggs, CNN Newsroom with Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto, At This Hour with Kate Bolduan, Inside Politics with John King (weekday), CNN Right Now with Brianna Keilar, CNN Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin, The Lead with Jake Tapper, The Situation Room, Erin Burnett Outfront, Anderson Cooper 360, New Day (weekends), Smerconish, CNN Special Reports, The Axe Files with David Axelrod, The Van Jones Show and S.E. Cupp Unfiltered all easily surpassed MSNBC this year, posting higher demo 25-54 audiences.

CNN’s Sunday morning programs including Inside Politics with John King (8am), State of the Union with Jake Tapper (9am), Fareed Zakaria GPS (10am) and Reliable Sources with Brian Stelter (11am,) all posted more viewers in the key demo 25-54 than MSNBC, ranking #2 in cable news.

On Saturdays and Sundays, CNN delivered higher demo audiences than MSNBC for 24 out of 24 hours.