MSNBC Edges CNN With Most Viewers for Monday’s Democratic National Convention

MSNBC viewership grew 36% over the first night of the 2016 DNC, while CNN fell 6%

Last Updated: August 18, 2020 @ 12:20 PM

MSNBC won during the one hour of Monday night’s Democratic National Convention that all three major cable news networks took the events live, according to Nielsen Media Research.

During the 10 p.m. ET hour into 11:15 p.m., MSNBC brought in an average of over 5 million total viewers, of whom 1,008,000 were in the advertiser-coveted age demographic of 25 to 54. CNN was next in total viewers with 4.7 million but won in the key demo with 1,496,000. During that time, Fox News took in slightly over 2 million total average viewers. Of those, 438,000 were in the demo.

MSNBC’s win came after it took second place last time around.

CNN topped primetime during the first night of the DNC in 2016, growing 70 percent over its comparable 2012 figures averaging 5,120,000 total viewers from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET that year. That was 37 percent higher than MSNBC’s 3,749,000 and Fox News Channel’s 3,731,000 that year. It is noteworthy that those numbers were from three-hour coverage spans while the 2020 ratings are a single hour of competitive airtime.

The 2020 convention — held remotely due to the coronavirus — was shown on MSNBC and CNN from 9 p.m. ET to 11 p.m. while Fox News took it from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m., making that final hour the most competitive for the big three. Reaction to the first night’s speakers was covered by commentators and correspondents across all three networks. The networks plan to keep their respective schedules through the remaining three nights.

During the two hours when only CNN and MSNBC showed the first night of speeches and performances, CNN averaged 4,713,000 total viewers, with 1,451,000 in the demo. MSNBC averaged more total average viewers — 5,010,000 — but fell behind CNN in demo viewers with 991,000.

The numbers for the competitive hour of DNC coverage this year are noteworthy when considering the day’s entire average: Fox News, far behind during DNC coverage, still won the total day in viewers, averaging 1.8 million, of whom 327,000 were between 25 and 54. CNN was in last place for total average viewers with 1,451,000, but first place in the demo with 390,000. MSNBC averaged 1.6 million through the day while bringing in an average of 286,000 demo viewers.

The first night of the event spawned a number of viral and noteworthy moments, from former Ohio governor John Kasich speaking from a literal “crossroads” for visual effect to former first lady Michelle Obama taking on President Donald Trump directly in a withering speech.

George Floyd’s family also spoke and there were tributes to Americans who have died from COVID-19 amid the ongoing pandemic crisis.

Trump lashed out at both Kasich and the former first lady in Tuesday morning tweets.