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Cable News Ratings: MSNBC Rises Back to Second in Primetime For February

Network moves ahead of CNN in primetime total viewers, but is still seeing double-digit losses year-over-year

MSNBC saw a rare ratings bright spot in February, moving back in front of CNN in primetime total viewers. Fox News remained far out in front as the No. 1-rated cable news network in all ratings measurements.

MSNBC attracted 533,000 primetime total viewers, 19,000 more than CNN. But CNN remained in front of “The Lean Forward” network for second place in the all-important 25-54 demo, beating the network by 51,000 primetime demo viewers.

Even though MSNBC moved ahead in primetime viewers, the network is still down double digits year-over-year: down 27 percent in primetime total viewers; down 48 percent in the primetime demo; down 24 percent in total day viewers; and down 44 percent in the total day demo.

In total day, CNN ranked second in both viewers and demo viewers; HLN ranked third in the daytime demo, edging out MSNBC for the ninth straight month. CNN continued to enjoy double-digit gains year-over-year: up 27 percent in both primetime total viewers and demo viewers; up 52 percent in total day viewers; and up 48 percent in demo viewers.

In a recent interview with TheWrap, CNN president Jeff Zucker cited the blend of breaking news coverage and original series in the propulsion of his network’s ratings:

“I think we’ve reconfirmed that CNN stands for news, and our commitment to covering news on a global scale is clear. And there’s been a tremendous amount of news — especially international news — and we’ve committed to covering that … Covering news coupled with the original series strategy has given us a very firm footing.”

CNN’s sister network, HLN, continued to see total day gains, up 18 percent in viewers and 34 percent in the demo during the day. The network is in the midst of a total rebrand geared toward social-media-oriented programming.

Fox News saw gains in the primetime demo, up 10 percent compared to the same time last year. The network was down five percent in primetime viewers and flat in both total viewers and demo viewers during the day.

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