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MSNBC Wins Advertiser Demo in Weekday Prime in May

Variety logo Variety 5/30/2017 Brian Steinberg
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A surge of viewers interested in the latest controversies surrounding President Donald Trump helped the MSNBC win the most audience in the advertiser-coveted 25-to-54 demographic for May – the first time since September 2000 that the NBCUniversal cable-news outlet has beaten both Fox News Channel and CNN in that category.

MSNBC said it averaged  532,000 viewers between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. for the month, compared with 524,000 for Fox News, and 455,000 for CNN.  Advertisers in news programming pay based on the number of people between 25 and 54 who watch the networks’ offerings.

The results show how the current political climate is only stirring cable-news viewers further. As has been the norm, executives at all three of the main cable-news networks expected post-election audiences to wane.  MSNBC executives attribute the audience spike to both rabid interest in the White House and a months-long effort to drill deeper on breaking news.

“The Rachel Maddow Show,” the linchpin of the cable network’s primetime lineup, was the most watched program on cable news in the advertiser demo. It was also was the most-watched cable-news program at 9 p.m.  – the first time MSNBC has accomplished that feat in its 20 year history. MSNBC said “Maddow” averaged 2.6 million total viewers and 638,000  viewers between 25 and 54.

The trend is also boosting MSNBC’s late-night schedule. “The 11th Hour with Brian Williams,” which airs at 11 p.m., finished May as the most-watched cable-news program at 11 p.m. in both total viewers and viewers between 25 and 54 – the first time MSNBC beat CNN and Fox News in total viewers during the time period since August 2001. “The 11th Hour” averaged 1.6 million total viewers and 523,000 viewers between 25 and 54.

MSNBC said “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” tied “Hannity” on Fox News for first place among viewers between 25 and 54.

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