MSNBC, which at one time hoped to overtake Fox News in the ratings, continued to stumble after hitting some of its lowest ratings in seven years. It also saw its much ballyhooed morning show, Morning Joe, drop to third place behind CNN’s New Day.
April was the second straight month that New Day beat Morning Joe in the all-important 25-54 demo, averaging 119,000 viewers to 105,000 for Morning Joe. Both shows trailed Fox and Friends, which averaged 237,000 viewers—more than CNN and MSNBC combined.
New Day, which has struggled since its launch last year, has caught the tailwind like many other CNN shows with its coverage of missing Malaysian Air flight MH370. According to The New York Times, since March 13, New Day beat Morning Joe 25 out of 33 days.
Morning Joe co-host Joe Scarborough has scoffed at CNN’s coverage of the missing airline by saying it had become “a punch line on The Daily Show for its phony breaking-news headlines and breathless coverage of random ocean debris,” adding that his show “won’t be distracted by ‘X-Files’ cable news programming.”
While there is no doubt that CNN has been obsessed with the missing airliner, and has eagerly chased down every rumor regarding the ongoing search, the fact remains that it has helped the network’s ratings enough to send MSNBC’s Total Day ratings in April to their lowest since May 2007.
CNN also scored a victory over MSNBC in primetime in April by averaging 200,000 viewers in the 25-54 demo, compared to 176,000 for MSNBC. Fox News easily beat both networks with 370,000 viewers.
Realistically, CNN can only milk this story for so long, and the ratings boost that they have received as a result is likely to be temporary. But it gives CNN president Jeff Zucker some much needed cover as he struggles to make the network truly competitive again.