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February 2011 Ratings: Rachel Maddow and Dayside Grow at MSNBC, But Olbermann’s Absence is Felt

The first full month without Keith Olbermann anchoring its primetime lineup was a mixed bag for MSNBC. The network’s dayside programming was up double digits in both the demo and total viewers for every hour compared to last year, but it placed a close third behind a resurgent CNN in that space. In primetime, Rachel Maddow‘s show soared at 9 PM, while “The Ed Show” fell behind CNN’s “AC360.”

  • Primetime (Mon-Sun): 844K Total Viewers / 259K A25-54
  • Total Day (Mon-Sun): 450K Total Viewers / 146K A25-54

MSNBC’s dayside programming was up double digits in total viewers and the demo for nearly every hour during the day. That growth was not quite enough to keep its lead over CNN, which edged out the network during the day.

In primetime, Rachel Maddow was up +34% in total viewers and +39% in the demo compared to last year, and was up +11% in total viewers and +19% in the demo compared to January.

Unfortunately, that growth was not seen at 8 or 10 PM. In his first full month at 8 PM< Lawrence O'Donnell mostly held his own compared to "Countdown" last year, growing +7% in total viewers and losing -9% in the demo. His show was down from the last few months of "Countdown," however. Nonetheless, O'Donnell has been able to keep MSNBC's lead over CNN at 8 PM in both categories.


At 10 PM, “The Ed Show” has been unable to generate the ratings that O’Donnell’s show saw in that time period. While it is up dramatically compared to 10 PM last year, it isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison, as reruns of “Countdown” were programmed in that slot last February. CNN’s “AC360″ was able to top “Ed” in both total viewers and the demo for the month.

“Morning Joe” performed well for MSNBC, growing +35% in total viewers and +30% in the demo compared to last year and +8 in the demo compared to January. The show placed second in total viewers behind “Fox & Friends,” and third in the demo behind “F&F” and HLN’s “Morning Express.”

The MSNBC release:

MSNBC BEATS CNN IN PRIME FOR THE 13th MONTH IN A ROW AMONG TOTAL VIEWERS AND A25-54

“THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O’DONNELL” Continues MSNBC’s Trend of Beating CNN at 8p

NEW YORK –March 1, 2011 – MSNBC beat CNN in all key primetime dayparts for the 13th month in a row with total viewers and A25-54, according to data from Nielsen Media Research. In February 2011, “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” continued MSNBC’s trend of beating CNN at 8 p.m. and “The Rachel Maddow Show” has its best total viewer delivery since March 2009. “Morning Joe” hit one year as cable’s No. 2 morning news program, beating both CNN and HLN in total viewers for the 12th consecutive month.

Following are MSNBC ratings highlights for February:

“Morning Joe” is the No. 2 cable morning news program for the 12th consecutive month (459,000 vs. CNN’s 298,000 total viewers), up 4% from January 2011. “Morning Joe” beat CNN’s “American Morning” for the 7th month in a row among A25-54 (138,000 vs. 132,000) and was up +8% in the demo from January 2011.

“Hardball with Chris Matthews” at 7 p.m. beat CNN for the 13th consecutive month in total viewers (734,000 vs. 559,000) and the 12th month in a row among A25-54 (182,000 vs. 177,000).

MSNBC beat CNN for the 36th consecutive month at 8 p.m. with “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” topping CNN in total viewers (1.033 million vs. 630,000) and A25-54 (235,000 vs. 186,000) for the month.

“The Rachel Maddow Show” marked the 13th consecutive monthly win over CNN among A25-54 (301,000 vs. 236,000) and total viewers (1.102 million vs. 809,000). This is the strongest A25-54 delivery for TRMS since November 2010 and the best total viewer delivery since March 2009. Compared to January 2011, “The Rachel Maddow Show” grew +11% in total viewers and 19% in A25-54.

MSNBC is #1 among African American and Hispanic viewers among cable news channels for the 13th consecutive month in M-Su Primetime.

Weekend Longform ranked #1 for the 11th consecutive month. In weekend sales prime, MSNBC ranked No. 1 and beat CNN and Fox New Channel among A25-54 for the 11th month in a row and achieved the 20th consecutive monthly win over CNN with A25-54.

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