Q1 2015 Ratings: CNN Makes Big Demo Gains, MSNBC Hits Record Lows, Fox Continues Victories


It’s that time of year again where every cable news press team sends out messages touting their ratings for the quarter! We took a look at their Q1 2015 ratings and will try to cut through the spin for you, loyal reader.

The short-hand summary seems to be this: CNN made big 25-54 demographic gains in almost every major category, MSNBC lost a significant portion of its primetime demo, and Fox continued its overall victories in primetime and daytime demos.

Now let’s go through each network:


The oldest cable news network continued its gains over MSNBC, beating its rival for the fourth straight quarter in total day demo and full-week primetime demo, and for the third straight quarter in weekday primetime demo.

One key indicator of their progress is the year-over-year quarterly growth: CNN’s weeknight primetime demo grew 15% from Q1 2014, the largest growth experience among the three big networks (Fox had 12% year-over year, MSNBC had a 45% decrease — more on that soon). Year-over-year in Q1, CNN is also up 20% in total day demo, 11% in full week primetime demo, and 24% in daytime demo.

Another interesting note of big gains for the network: Morning show New Day beat MSNBC’s Morning Joe for the third straight quarter in total viewers and the key 25-54 demo. The CNN show’s 365k total and 125k demo viewership represent its highest quarterlies on record since it debuted in June 2013.

Read their full press release here.

Fox News

Fox News continued its cable dominance during Q1, finishing fourth among all basic cable networks in both primetime and total day ratings. Ahead of Fox was just ESPN, TBS (thanks to March Madness), and USA Network. All while CNN and MSNBC finished below the top 25 among cable in both categories.

For the quarter, Fox also beat MSNBC and CNN’s 25-54 primetime demo ratings combined, and experienced around 10% growth in year-over-year quarterly primetime demo ratings. Additionally, Fox’s two biggest primetime shows — The O’Reilly Factor and The Kelly File — experienced double-digit demo growth, year-over-year (19% and 20%, respectively).

Amidst all the controversy surrounding Bill O’Reilly, his show marked its 60th consecutive quarter at #1.


It’s safe to say MSNBC has the least to brag about for this quarter.

Their press releases focused mostly on March 2015 ratings rather than the quarter, and this is likely why: For Q1 2015, MSNBC’s weekday primetime experienced a 45% decrease in key 25-54 demo viewership from Q1 2014. The network’s total daytime demo viewership declined 39% from Q1 2014. Additionally, a key program like The Rachel Maddow Show hit an all-time low in quarterly demo ratings since its Sept. 2008 launch.

In total day and weekday primetime demo ratings, MSNBC hit its lowest quarterly levels in 10 years (since Q2 2005), and its lowest quarter of total viewership since the last quarter of 2007.

While, as we noted above, CNN’s New Day beat Morning Joe for three quarters in a row now — in both total and demo viewership — MSNBC highlights its March 2015 total viewership victory over New Day, as well as a monthly total viewership victory over CNN in primetime.

Of course, the key 25-54 demo is generally seen as more important for advertisers, but the network doesn’t have much to note in that regard. Though they did boast about Morning Joe beating New Day with “influencers,” i.e., beating their rival in the demo in New York, D.C., and Boston.

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