CNN received a split decision in the ratings for the first quarter of 2012 by beating rival MSNBC in the key demo during primetime, but losing to the more liberal network in overall viewership during the same time period.
During the first quarter CNN sponsored three Republican presidential debates, which definitely helped the network with the A25-54 demo. It also saw the repeat of AC360 at 10 p.m. beat MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell, giving CNN the edge with an average of 256,000 primetime viewers to MSNBC’s 237,000.
While CNN showed strength with the younger viewer, it wasn’t enough to overtake MSNBC in total viewership and it trailed them by a margin of 830,000-761,000.
As CNN and MSNBC continue to battle it out for second place, Fox News handily beat both networks combined in overall viewers with an average of 1.917 million in primetime. Fox averaged 423,000 in the demo which was far ahead of what either CNN or MSNBC could muster on their own.
Without the benefit of any Republican presidential debates in the next quarter, and barring any major news events, CNN’s victory over MSNBC may be short-lived.