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January 2012 Ratings: CNN Has a Mostly Positive Start to 2012

CNN kicked off 2012 in solid shape, improving upon its year-ago numbers, and topping MSNBC in both total and demo viewers in primetime. January was a big news month, with a number of debates, primaries and the State of the Union Address, all of which helped contribute to CNN’s gains.

The ratings for January, 2012:

  • Primetime (Mon-Sun): 842K Total Viewers / 282K A25-54
  • Total Day (Mon-Sun): 445K Total Viewers / 139K A25-54

In primetime (Mon.-Sun.), CNN was up +25% in total viewers and +41% in the key A25-54 demographic compared to last year, placing it second behind Fox News in both categories. CNN was up +4% in total viewers and pup +7% in the demo in total day compared to last year.

“AC360″ continued to grow at both 8 and 10 PM. At 8 PM, the program was up +20% in total viewers and up +42% in the demo compared to last year, when “Parker Spitzer” was running. At 10 PM the program was up +28% in total viewers and +61% in the demo compared to its performance last year.

Piers Morgan Tonight” was down double digits compared to last January, but that is because the program had strong tune-in for its launch week last year (beginning Jan. 17), driving up the monthly average.

In its first month on-air, the new CNN morning shows failed to light up the ratings wire, but they didn’t burn them out either.

“Early Start” was flat in the demo and down -20% in total viewers from last year, while “Starting Point” was up +5% in total viewers and down -2% in the demo.

In primetime, “Erin Burnett Outfront” improved the ratings in its 7 PM timeslot +3% in total viewers and +8% in the demo compared to a year ago, when “John King USA” was there.

CNN’s release:




CNN Tops MSNBC in Total Day Demo and Dayside

January 2012 Highlights:

CNN tops MSNBC in M-F and M-Su primetime in both total viewers and key demo
CNN tops MSNBC in total day demo and grows, while MSNBC loses viewers
CNN tops MSNBC throughout the daytime
AC 360 at 10p tops MSNBC in both categories and increases +61% in the target demo while MSNBC is down -18%
AC 360 at 8p grows +42% in key demo and +20% in total viewers; while MSNBC is down -29% and -12% respectively
Erin Burnett OutFront (7p) is up vs. CNN programming a year ago and at 11p tops MSNBC’s Ed Show in the key demo

In M-F primetime (8-11p), CNN topped MSNBC in both total viewers (976k vs. 942k) and in the target demo (329k vs. 225k) in January 2012. Compared to a year ago, CNN increased +58% in the key demo (329k vs. 208k) and MSNBC lost -14% of its primetime audience (225k vs. 262k). Without the debates, CNN still outperformed MSNBC in the key demo 25-54 (250k vs. 225k) this month.

In M-Su primetime, CNN topped MSNBC in total viewers (842k vs. 804k) and in the demo (282k vs. 219k). In total day, CNN bested MSNBC in the target demo (139k vs. 133k) and grew +7% (139k vs.130k) while MSNBC fell -14% (133k vs. 154k) compared to year ago. CNN also outperformed MSNBC in daytime (9a-5p) in January, averaging 126k in P25-54 vs. MSNBC’s 86k.

Show Highlights (January 2012 vs. January 2011):

10p, ET: AC 360 topped MSNBC in both total viewers (765k vs. 705k) and in the demo (282k vs. 179k) – and grew an impressive +61% among 25-54 (282k vs. 175k) and +28% in total viewers (765k vs. 596k). MSNBC’s Last Word was down -18% in the demo vs. a year ago (179k vs. 218k).
9p, ET: Piers Morgan Tonight did not launch until January 17 last year, and this year PMT was preempted five nights due to political coverage. Compared to last month (December 2011), the program was up +10% in the demo (170k vs. 155k).
8p, ET: AC 360 is the only program to post growth vs. a year ago; increasing +42% in the demo (177k vs. 125k) and +20% in total viewers (573k vs. 479k). MSNBC is down -29% (184k vs. 260k) and FNC is off -17% (615k vs. 739k) in the key demo.
7p, ET: Erin Burnett OutFront continues to show growth, increasing +8% in the key demo (138k vs. 128k) and +3% in total viewers (450k vs. 437k). The 11pm, ET replay (west coast primetime 8p, PT) of OutFront topped MSNBC’s Ed Show in the key demo (145k vs. 141k).
4p, ET: The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer topped MSNBC’s Dylan Ratigan in both total viewers (581k vs. 499k) and in the demo (142k vs. 87k). Sit Room also grew vs. a year ago, increasing +11% in the target demo.
7a, ET: Starting Point with Soledad O’Brien grew +5% in total viewers vs. CNN programming a year ago (254k vs. 241k).


CNN reached a cumulative audience of 97.955 million viewers in January, representing the network’s best month since August 2011. FNC followed with 82.921 million and MSNBC averaged 80.701 million.

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