MSNBC has a historic ratings week


The cable news network MSNBC drew record viewership for its prime-time coverage of the Democratic National Convention and its first overall victory in its 24-year history.

MSNBC averaged 3.272 million viewers for its prime-time programming between Aug. 17 and Sunday, according to live-plus-same-day figures released by Nielsen on Tuesday, more than any broadcast or cable network. Its previous high was 2.42 million the week of March 10-16 when much of the nation was under stay-at-home orders because of the coronavirus pandemic.

MSNBC’s coverage of the acceptance speeches by presidential nominee Joe Biden and vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris accounted for two of the week’s three prime-time programs to average more than 6 million viewers.


MSNBC’s 39-minute coverage of Biden’s speech Thursday averaged 6.236 million viewers. Its two-hour, 13-minute coverage of Wednesday’s proceedings, which included Harris’ speech, averaged 6.199 million viewers.

The week’s other program to average more than 6 million viewers was Sunday’s edition of CBS’ “60 Minutes” with three previously broadcast segments that were updated and averaged 7.225 million viewers, the most for a prime-time program since the July 14 “America’s Got Talent” episode on NBC averaged 7.632 million viewers.

This was the fifth time “60 Minutes” has been the most-watched program during the 13 weeks of television’s 2020 summer season. “America’s Got Talent” finished first the other eight.

The Aug. 18 “America’s Got Talent” episode was the week’s most-watched entertainment program, averaging 5.579 million viewers, seventh overall. An “America’s Got Talent” episode has been the week’s most-watched entertainment program every week an original episode has aired since its 2016 season premiere.

Sunday’s third-season finale of the Paramount Network neo-western “Yellowstone” was the second among entertainment programs and eighth overall, averaging 5.158 million viewers, the most for a cable entertainment program this year.

While MSNBC’s convention coverage ended Fox News’ 30-week streak as cable’s most-watched network, it was still second among all networks, averaging 3.092 million viewers, one week after its third overall first-place finish of the summer.


CBS was third, averaging 3.03 million, followed by CNN, 2.77 million; ABC, 2.6 million; and NBC, 2.42 million.

Fox was fourth among the English-language broadcast networks and 13th overall, trailing seven cable networks, the Spanish-language Univision network and Ion Television, averaging 1.21 million viewers for its 16 hours of prime-time programming.

Fox’s most-watched program was a rerun of the procedural drama “9-1-1,” which averaged 2.202 million viewers, 38th among broadcast programs. Its overall rank was not available.

ABC’s highest rated program was “The Ticket — The First Interview,” the first joint network interview with Biden and Harris, which averaged 5.107 million viewers, 10th overall.

The hourlong interview was the first ABC prime-time program to average more than 5 million viewers since the July 12 “Celebrity Family Feud” episode which averaged 5.126 million.

ABC aired the week’s top ranked prime-time sporting event, the Lakers’ 116-108 victory over Portland on Saturday in Game 3 of their first-round playoff series, which averaged 3.828 million viewers, 32nd for the week but first among Saturday prime-time programs.