July 29, 2014 3:09pm PT by Michael O'Connell
CNN Overtakes MSNBC in July as Ratings Take a Hit
The cable news ratings seesaw for No. 2 has been in MSNBC's favor for some time, but not in July. CNN reclaimed runner-up status to Fox News Channel for the month by most key measures.
What's most disconcerting for MSNBC might be its total day average among the news demo of adults 25-54. Dropping 33 percent from July 2013, it actually ranked below HLN by 16,000 viewers for No. 4 status.
To be sure, it wasn't a particularly outstanding month for most of the networks. In primetime and total day, CNN, MSNBC and HLN all were off double digits in the targeted demographic compared to a year ago. FNC, which easily retains the top slot, had the benefit of being up a tick (2 percent) in primetime for an average 299,000 adults 25-54.
July proved to be full of breaking news, with the ongoing crisis in the Gaza Strip and the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 occupying significant coverage from all during the second half of the month. The ratings losses that have been logged were somewhat lessened by the lifts seen in the last two weeks.
There also are individual races that proved more interesting than usual. In the morning, CNN's New Day overtook MSNBC's Morning Joe in the key demo, 93,000 to 79,000 viewers. At 5 p.m., FNC's The Five hit its third month at No. 1 among total viewers across all of cable — beating Nickelodeon's longtime vet and kid-pleaser SpongeBob SquarePants.
And in the evening, Rachel Maddow was only marginally improved from her lowest month ever in June, averaging 181,000 viewers in the key demo. (FNC's Megyn Kelly, by contrast, enjoyed her second-highest-rated month since launch with an especially strong 386,000 adults 25-54.)
It's also worth noting that Kelly and Maddow no longer see traditional news competition from CNN at 9 p.m. ET. Doc special The Sixties, which has been airing in the hour on Thursdays, has averaged 291,000 adults 25-54 over the course of its seven premiere telecasts. It now regularly outperforms Maddow.