MSNBC, HLN steady as cable news ratings drop


MSNBCThe cable news industry was hit with another month of down ratings. Every network saw ratings drop in Q1 from 2012, a politics-heavy election year. In primetime, Fox News suffered the biggest hit falling 33% from its 2012 numbers. CNN fell 28% and MSNBC dropped only 4%.

Fox News saw primetime numbers fall to new lows in 25-54 category for many shows. MSNBC noted in a press release that FNC hosts Sean Hannity and Greta Van Susteren had their worst 25-54 ratings ever. Bill O’Reilly’s 25-54’s were also off by 26%. However, all three shows were still at the top of the ratings. And remember, Fox News has been in first place for over 11 years.

MSNBC said topped CNN in total day, morning and primetime among both total viewers and A25-54 for the quarter. Compared to the same period in 2012, that included the start of the Presidential election season, MSNBC’s ratings held steady and saw double digit growth (+30%) in M-F Daytime among 25-54. Fox News Channel saw year-over-year declines in every daypart among 25-54.

In total day (M-Su 6a-6a), MSNBC ranked #2 in both total viewers (431,000) and A25-54 (141,000) and ranked #1 among the younger demo of A18-34. MSNBC was also #1 in total day among African American viewers. CNN was down -12% and FNC decreased -18% in 25-54 while MSNBC was flat from Q1 ‘12 in Total Day.

In weekday primetime (M-F 8p-11p), MSNBC ranked #2 in both total viewers (905,000 vs. CNN’s 658,000) and A25-54 (238,000 vs. CNN’s 197,000). Compared to Q1 ‘12, MSNBC is down -4% while CNN is down -28% and FNC is down -33%.

There was some good news for CNN. “AC360” posted gains in the 8:00 p.m. hour, increasing 17% in total viewers and 9% in the demo. Erin Burnett and Wolf Blitzer’s shows also saw small ratings increases.

CNN sister HLN was the biggest winner for the month, as its nonstop coverage of the Jodi Arias trial drove it to new ratings highs. The network boasted double-digit gains and was up 17% in total viewers and 23% in 25-54. The network also scored its best ever March in total viewers, up 53% from this time last year, reports The Huffington Post.

RBR-TVBR observation: We think this is just a blip on the radar screen, with many tuning out just because the elections are over. There is so much going on in Q2 that ratings are bound to go up again—North Korea; gun control; the potential spread of the Cyprus banking fleece to other countries; Iran—you name it!


  1. I wonder if it’s due to weak content: I’m a “news junkie”…but what they’ve been serving, for me, has been lacking in quality.

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