hit historic ratings highs this month, with the network having its most-watched August in 40 years in all day parts, including total day, prime time and dayside among total viewers. In addition, beat MSNBC in total day, prime time and on weekends in the demo adults 25-54. Across both political conventions this month (RNC and DNC), CNN outperformed all the broadcast networks (NBC, ABC and CBS) in total viewers and the key demos and surpassed MSNBC in adults 25-54 and MSNBC and FNC in younger viewers (18-34). CNN also had robust ratings growth vs. a year ago.
CNN programs including The Lead with Jake Tapper, The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, Erin Burnett Outfront, Anderson Cooper 360, Cuomo Prime Time and CNN Tonight with Don Lemon all had ratings highs this month, posting their best August ratings on record among total viewers. Tapper, Blitzer, Burnett, Cooper and Lemon all drew higher audiences than MSNBC in the demo this month. CNN’s weekday programming ranked #1 in cable news every hour from 2p-5pm, topping both MSNBC and FNC in the key demo in August. CNN’s Original Series United Shades with W. Kamau Bell ranked #1 in cable news in its time period in the key demo adults 25-54 in August. CNN’s digital platforms are also having record numbers, making CNN the most watched and most used news and information brand in the world.
In total day, CNN had its best August ever among total viewers, averaging 1.020 million and its second highest among adults 25-54 with 257k (just following 2017). For the ninth straight month, CNN outperformed MSNBC in total day in the demo 25-54 (257k vs. 197k). Compared to a year ago, CNN was up +47% in total viewers and +50% in the demo 25-54.
CNN also had its most-watched August prime time on record in both total viewers and among adults 25-54 averaging 1.712 million/463k in M-Su prime and 2.004 million/555k in M-F prime time. Competitively, CNN has beat MSNBC in prime time for the six straight month in M-Su prime (463k vs. 371k) as well as weekday (M-F) prime (555k vs 473k). CNN had double digit ratings growth in August, increasing +13% in total viewers/+14% in the demo during M-Su prime time and +11%/+14% in weekday prime time.
During dayside (9am-4pm), CNN (284k) has now surpassed MSNBC (184k) for the 78th straight month among 25-54. In total viewers, CNN dayside averaged 1.155 million this month, the network’s highest August delivery on record and second highest demo delivery (284k), just after 1995. Compared to a year ago, CNN was up +80% in total viewers and +112% in adults 25-54 during the hours 9am-4pm.
On Saturdays, CNN was #1 in cable news every hour from Noon-4pm and at 7pm, topping MSNBC and FNC in the demo. CNN was also #1 on Sundays each hour from Noon-8pm and 10pm adults 25-54. CNN beat MSNBC for 24 out of 24 hours on Saturdays and Sundays in the key demo.
All of Cable, Median Age, Reach and Cross Platform:
Among ALL cable networks (not just news), CNN ranked #3 in total day, M-Su/M-F primetime and dayside in total viewers. Among 25-54, CNN ranked #3 in total day and M-F primetime, #4 in M-Su primetime and #2 in dayside in August. CNN continues to have the youngest audience in cable news in total day and prime. Additionally, CNN reaches the largest average monthly cumulative TV audience (among both total viewers and adults 25-54) of any cable news network 2020-to-date (highest since 2017). Across platforms, CNN reaches more total people than any other cable news brand across TV and digital and more people ages 25-54 than any other news brand across TV and digital.
August 2020 News Program Highlights:
- New Day with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman (6-9am) had its second-highest August ratings on record in total viewers (620k) In the demo adults 25-54 the program delivered (136k). New Day was up double digits vs. a year ago, increasing +36% in total viewers and +26% in the demo. Early Start with Christine Romans and Laura Jarrett (5-6am) topped MSNBC in the demo this month, increasing +28% in total viewers and +20% in the demo compared to a year ago.
- The Lead with Jake Tapper (4pm) ranked #1 in cable news for the fifth straight month in August, beating MSNBC’s Deadline: The White House with Nicolle Wallace and FNC’s Your World with Neil Cavuto in the key demo 25-54. The program averaged 310k, FNC followed with 295k and MSNBC lagged with 251k. The Lead had its highest August ratings on record in total viewers (1.334 million)
- and second best on record in the demo (310k) just after 2017. The Tapper-led program also grew an impressive +81% in total viewers and +97% in the demo vs. last August.
The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer ranked #2 in cable news this month, topping MSNBC at both 5pm (347k vs. MSNBC’s 259k) and at 6pm (350k vs. MSNBC’s 271k) among adults 25-54. The Blitzer-led program has now outperformed MSNBC at 5pm for the 27th consecutive month and posted its highest August ever in total viewers (1.444 million) and in the demo (347k). At 6pm, the program beat MSNBC for the 10th straight month; posting its highest total viewer delivery (1.332 million) on record and second highest demo delivery (350k) following 2017. Sit Room also grew significantly at 5pm vs. last year, increasing +78% in total viewers and 97% in the demo and at 6pm, was up +80%/+91% respectively.
- Erin Burnett Outfront (7pm) continued to surpass MSNBC at 7pm this month in the key demo adults 25-54 (380k vs. 322k). CNN has now topped MSNBC during the 7pm hour now for over one year (13 straight months). This month was the Burnett-led program’s best August on record among total viewers (1.406 million) and second best in the demo (380k, following 2017). EBOF was up +65% in total viewers and +76% in the demo vs. last year.
- Anderson Cooper 360 (8pm) beat MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes for the eighth straight month in the key demo adults 25-54 (417k vs. MSNBC’s 323k) in August. This is AC 360’s best August ratings on record in total viewers (1.571 million) and second best in the demo (417k) since 2017. AC 360 is up +60% in total viewers and +79% in the demo compared to a year ago.
- Cuomo Prime Time (9pm) had CNN’s highest viewership in August in total viewers (1.750 million) and in the demo adults 25-54 (438k). This month is the program’s best August total viewer and demo delivery ever and the network’s overall second-best 9pm time period delivery in total viewers since August 1998. The Cuomo-led program was up +56% in total viewers and +60% among adults 25-54 vs. last year.
- CNN Tonight with Don Lemon (10pm) topped MSNBC’s The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell now for the sixth straight month in the key demo adults 25-54 (384k vs. MSNBC’s 338k). The Lemon-led program had its highest August on record among total viewers (1.360m). Compared to a year ago, CNN Tonight increased +39% in total viewers and +47% in the demo. At 11pm, CNN Tonight was up +37% in total viewers and +49% among 25-54 vs. last year.
Brooke Baldwin, Dana Bash, Jim Acosta, Victor Blackwell, Kate Bolduan, Ana Cabrera, Bianna Golodryga, Anderson Cooper, Poppy Harlow, Erica Hill, Brianna Keilar, John King, Alex Marquardt, Christi Paul, Boris Sanchez, Jim Sciutto and Fredricka Whitfield all contributed to CNN Newsroom during dayside and/or weekend coverage in August.
Weekend Program Highlights
- New Day Weekend with Christi Paul and Victor Blackwell ranked #2 in cable news in either total viewers and/or the demo adults 25-54 during its respective time periods on Saturdays and Sundays in August, growing double digits vs. a year ago.
- CNN Newsroom with Fredricka Whitfield and CNN Newsroom with Ana Cabrera ranked either #1 or #2 in the demo during their respective time periods on Saturdays and Sundays as well, also growing double digits vs. last year.
- Smerconish (Sat. 9am) ranked #2 in cable news in the key demo (203k vs. MSNBC’s 147k) growing double digits during its time period among both total viewers (+40%) and in the demo 25-54 (+59%) vs. a year ago.
- The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer aired on weekends throughout August and ranked either #1 or #2 on both Saturdays and Sundays among adults 25-54.
- Inside Politics with John King (Sun. 8am) topped MSNBC in both total viewers (737k vs. 648k) and the demo 25-54 (152k vs. 91k). The King-led program increased +21% in total viewers and +1% in the demo compared to last year.
- State of the Union with Jake Tapper (Sun. 9am) outperformed MSNBC in total viewers (1.019 million vs. 733k) and in the demo (217k vs. 110k) this month. The Tapper-led program was up +34% in total viewers and +10% in the demo. At noon, SOTU ranked #1 in cable news with 256k, to Fox’s 219k to MSNBC’s 146k. The noon edition was also up +31% in total viewers and +25% in the demo.
- Fareed Zakaria GPS (Sun. 10am) easily surpassed MSNBC on Sunday mornings in total viewers (1.038 million vs. MSNBC’s 887k) and among 25-54 (224k vs. 131k). The Zakaria led program grew during its time period, increasing +46% in total viewers and +56% in the demo vs. last year. At 1pm, GPS was #1 in the demo with 235k, FNC followed with 193k and MSNBC had 139k. The 1pm edition was also up, increasing +61% in total viewers and +85% in the demo.
- Reliable Sources with Brian Stelter (Sun. 11am) ranked #2 in cable news easily topping MSNBC in total viewers (1.042m vs. MSNBC’s 1.003m) and in the demo (221k vs. 152k). The Stelter led program about the media grew +28% in total viewers and +8% in the demo vs. a year ago.
CNN Original Series
Season five of CNN’s Original Series United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell premiered at #1 in cable news in the key demo adults 25-54 and #2 in total viewers across cable news in its time period, averaging 291k adults 25-54 and 1.043 million among total viewers. The Bell-led series outperformed MSNBC by +26% among adults 25-54 and +55% among total viewers. Compared to Season 4, the series was up +47% in adults 25-54 and an impressive +86% in total viewers. So far in 2020-to-date, CNN’s United Shades of America ranks #4 among the Top 10 non-fiction Society & Culture series in All of Cable among 25-54.
CNN Films Presents
The Andrew Rossi-directed, HBO Documentary Film CNN Films Presents: After Truth: Disinformation and the Cost of Fake News (Sat, 8/29/20 10-12pm), executive produced by Brian Stelter, drew 194k adults 25-54 and 807k total viewers. The film ranked #2 across cable news in its time period outperforming MSNBC by +76% in the demo and by +22% among total viewers.
CNN Special Programming
- CNN’s global Town Halls, Coronavirus: Facts and Fears, hosted by CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta, along with health experts, CNN correspondents from around the world and others, have become essential viewing on Thursday nights since the first one aired on March 5th. The Town Halls continue to have robust interest among viewers, averaging 1.927 million total viewers and 561k in the demo adults 25-54 over 19 episodes.
- On 8/15 CNN Special Report: Count of Controversy: Inside the Electoral College anchored by John Berman drew 220k among adults 25-54 and 1.050m in total viewers. The one-hour special report ranked #2 among both demos and was ahead of MSNBC by 189% and +46% respectively, at 10pm.
- On 8/22, CNN Special Report: Women Represented, The 100 Year Battle for Equality anchored by Erin Burnett drew 182k in the key demo adults 25-54 and 784k among total viewers. The program ranked #2 in the demo and was ahead of MSNBC by +37% at 10pm.
- On 8/30, How They See Us: A Global View of Trump’s America: A Fareed Zakaria GPS Special drew 197k in adults 25-54 and 1.006 million among total viewers. The program ranked #2 among both demos and outperformed MSNBC by +55% & +19% respectively.
August Political Conventions
- In the 10-11pm coverage block, CNN ranked #2 among total viewers for both the DNC (behind MSNBC) and the RNC (behind FNC) in average audience across broadcast and cable in the 10pm hour, beating all of the broadcast networks (ABC, CBS and NBC). On average across both conventions, CNN was #2 in the 10pm hour among adults 25-54 behind FNC.
- Additionally, in the convention coverage blocks (DNC 9pm-11pm/RNC 8:30pm-11pm) CNN was also #2 in cable news among total viewers during the full convention, behind MSNBC for the DNC (9p-11p) and behind FXNC for the RNC (8:30p-11p).
- Expanding to ALL OF TV, CNN also ranks #2 in the 10pm hour among total viewers for both the DNC (behind MSNBC) and the RNC (behind FNC) and among 25-54 in the 10pm hour, CNN ranked #1 for the DNC, #4 for the RNC, and #2 on average across both conventions (behind FNC).
CNN Digital viewing added a 2% lift (or 15k) to CNN’s P2+ 1.020m total day TV audience for a total of 1.035 million across platforms this month.
Out of Home Lift
2020-to-date (through 8/16/20), CNN is averaging a +4% lift (or +44k) among total viewers and a +6% lift (or +18k) among adults 25-54 OOH viewers for a total of 1.082 million and 305k, combined in-home and OOH total viewers and adults 25-54 respectively.
FOUNDER & CHIEF CONTENT OFFICER | Founder and COO of Seat42F, a leading source of entertainment news, information, television and movie resources.