Cable News Ratings: MSNBC Secures 2nd Place

Scheduling moves boost MSNBC over CNN in prime time for November

The battle between CNN and MSNBC for second place appears to have tipped back in MSNBC’s favor for the month of November.

The left-leaning network took the second spot in both total viewers and the coveted adults 25-54 demographic for primetime and total day, according data from to Nielsen Media Research.

MSNBC credits the resurgence to its scheduling move in October, when it moved "The Ed Show" with Ed Schultz to 8 p.m. and "The Last Word With Lawrence O'Donnell" back to 10 p.m., bookending the "Rachel Maddow Show" at 9 p.m.

While Fox remained the unquestioned leader with 1.7 million viewers in prime time (and 368,000 in the key demo), MSNBC bested CNN by 89,000 in average prime-time viewers (729,000 to 640,000) and 30,000 in the demo (215,000 to 185,000).

MSNBC also beat the original cable news channel in total day viewers (427,00 to 409,000 overall and 139,000 to 122,000 in the demo) — a category CNN usually fares better in. Its daytime shows are up 27 percent in total viewers and 16 percent in the demo as compared to November of last year.

Fox still led the way with 1.05 million total viewers, 259,000 of which came from the demo.

The numbers were trending in CNN’s favor for the past couple months, though MSNBC maintained a slight lead in most categories.

Also Read: GOP Debate Propels CNN to Strong October

For November, MSNBC reversed that shift, grabbing more of the audience than in October or September (though the gap remains smaller than it was last year with Keith Olbermann in the 8 p.m. slot).

MSNBC also reclaimed the 25-54 demo in primetime, which CNN won in November thanks in large part to the great ratings for its Western Republican Debate Oct. 18.

CNN's lone debate for the month — its national security contest Nov. 22 — won the night with its ratings, but fell well short of the prior debate. Neither Fox nor MSNBC aired a debate in November.

Numbers for all of the networks are down in prime time from a year ago when the midterm elections boosted ratings.

Other than the lack of debates and a dip in overall news, the only real change was MSNBC's scheduling  move — swapping “The Ed Show” and “Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell.” Both shows beat CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360” in the demo, reversing Cooper's edge in October.

Cooper, who was on vacation for a week of the month, continues to fare better at 10 p.m. than 8 p.m., the slot ruled by Fox's Bill O'Reilly.

Meanwhile his counterpart Piers Morgan had his worst month in the demo since he took over Larry King's spot.

Roger Ailes' network claimed nine of the top 10 shows in the key demo as the growth continued for “The Five” and “Red Eye." The former posted its highest ratings since its July debut and the latter its best ratings month in its nearly five years on the air.

The lone non-Fox show in the top 10? "Rachel Maddow."