Election month was big for all three major cable news networks, but CNN saw the most record-breaking growth. Compared to last November, CNN’s total viewership grew 135% and its viewership in the key demo grew 209%, according to Nielsen Media Research ratings data. Overall, says the network, it broke all of its previous viewership records.
With its highest-rated month ever, CNN not only beat Fox News and MSNBC in the advertiser-coveted age demographic of 25 to 54, but it inched close to Fox News’ top spot in total viewers. Fox News had the highest November total, taking in 1.94 million total average viewers for the full month, with 413,000 in the demo. CNN was close behind, bringing in an average of 1.781 million total average viewers through November, of whom 558,000 were in the key age demo. MSNBC had 1.589 million total average viewers and 302,000 demo viewers.
In primetime, Fox News continued to lead the way in total average viewers, securing its highest-rated primetime month of all time by bringing in 3.939 million average viewers from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET. Of those, 827,000 were in the demo, coming in second to CNN, which delivered 948,000 demo primetime viewers for November and 2.802 million total average viewers. MSNBC’s November primetime ratings show 2.66 million average viewers and 536,000 demo viewers.
Fox News’ 8 p.m. offering, “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” did particularly well, marking the first time that a cable news program brought in over 5 million viewers for two consecutive months. Four of the top five cable news shows for the month in both total viewers and demo viewers were Fox News’, including Carlson’s, Sean Hannity’s and Laura Ingraham’s primetime programs and the 5 p.m. ET show “The Five.” Rachel Maddow’s primetime show on MSNBC was in fifth place for total average viewers while Chris Cuomo’s on CNN was in fifth place in the demo.
Notably, CNN topped all of cable in the demo through daytime programming, and beginning the day after election day, the network started beating Fox News and MSNBC in total average viewers and demo viewers. From Nov. 4 to date, CNN set its longest winning streak since September 2001, pulling in an average of 1.834 million, of whom 572,000 were in the key age demographic of 25 to 54. Fox News took in an average of 1.613 million total viewers with 329,000 in the demo, and MSNBC garnered 1.572 million total viewers on average. Of those, 297,000 were in the key demo.
November was a big month for cable news because the election was, of course, unlike any other. As of Wednesday, President Donald Trump has still not conceded that he lost the race to President-elect Joe Biden. His ongoing legal battles and the hurdles in the administrational transition have been big topics for the three major networks, which all called the race for Biden on Nov. 7.