MEDIA
11/28/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

MSNBC Tops CNN For October

MSNBC beat CNN in prime time for the month of October, led by the breakout success of "The Rachel Maddow Show," which brought MSNBC its first-ever victory over CNN in the 9PM hour.

The Hollywood Reporter's Paul J. Gough reports:

MSNBC has throttled into second place in three hours of cable news primetime, beating CNN for the month of October.

Fox News, as usual, retains the top slot and is in no danger of relinquishing it. But MSNBC turned in its best primetime performance in its 12-year history in the adults 25-54 demo, according to Nielsen Media Research. It surpassed CNN for second place between 7-10 p.m. with "Hardball," "Countdown With Keith Olbermann" and "The Rachel Maddow Show."

MSNBC GM Phil Griffin said Monday that it's a historic placement for the network and part of MSNBC's long-term strategy when it set out on this course two years ago.

"We wanted to challenge CNN and become a player by the election," Griffin said. "Guess what? In the months leading into the election, we beat CNN."

Griffin also spoke to TVNewser, saying:

"We've never had a performance like this in our history. We tamed the giant of Larry King."

The Numbers
7PM
"Hardball": 458,000 (A25-54)
"Lou Dobbs Tonight": 428,000 (A25-54)

8PM
"Countdown with Keith Olbermann": 784,000 (A25-54)
"Campbell Brown": 582,000 (A25-54)

9PM
"The Rachel Maddow Show": 700,000 (A25-54)
"Larry King Live": 673,000 (A25-54)

Of course, with MSNBC's growing success comes a target on its back, and CNN President Jon Klein said in a statement that he expects CNN's nonpartisan programming to win out once the passions of the election season have subsided:

CNN is beating MSNBC in primetime, we are No. 1 in all cable news at 10 p.m., and it is no surprise that their partisan approach will see a bump a month before the election. We think our objective, post-partisan approach will have better long-term results.

Such a sentiment was echoed by TV executives on both sides of the political aisle at a media luncheon. The Hollywood Reporter's Paul Bond reports that even Democrats said MSNBC is "out of control" in its liberal leanings:

The cable news channel is "completely out of control," said writer-producer Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, a self-proclaimed liberal Democrat.

She added that she would prefer a lunch date with right-leaning Fox News star Sean Hannity over left-leaning MSNBC star Keith Olbermann.

Olbermann was criticized by many who attended Monday's luncheon sponsored by the Caucus for Producers, Writers & Directors at the Beverly Hills Hotel. The event was dubbed "Hollywood, America and Election '08."

Bloodworth-Thomason and others seemed especially critical of the way MSNBC -- and other media -- has attacked Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin while demeaning her supporters.

"We should stop the demonizing," she said, adding that Democrats have been worse than Republicans as far as personal attacks on candidates are concerned. "It diminishes us," she said of her fellow Democrats.

Full MSNBC press release below:

MSNBC'S RACHEL MADDOW DE-THRONES KING - MSNBC FASTEST GROWING CABLE NET IN OCT.

MSNBC's "The Rachel Maddow Show" Out-Rates CNN's "Larry King Live" in A25-54 in Oct., First Time MSNBC has Ever Out-Rated CNN at 9 PM

"Countdown" Sees Highest Ratings Ever; MSNBC's Best Primetime Performance Ever

"Hardball with Chris Matthews" Out-Rates CNN's "Lou Dobbs" at 7 PM

NEW YORK - Oct. 27, 2008 - MSNBC's seven-week old "The Rachel Maddow Show" marked a huge milestone, out-rating CNN's "Larry King Live" in just its second month on the air among Adults 25-54, the first time ever MSNBC has out-rated CNN at 9 p.m. (700,000 vs. 673,000, program data, excludes presidential debates). "The Rachel Maddow Show" is up an astounding 396 percent from Oct. 07 among A25-54 (700,000 vs. 141,000) and up 387 percent in total viewers (1,893,000 vs. 389,000).

MSNBC's fantastic ratings growth reached new heights in October, becoming the fastest growing network in all of cable for the month (+147% in total viewers, total day vs. Oct. 07, through Friday). MSNBC also saw its best month ever in weekday primetime in total viewers (2,002,000) and in the key Adults 25-54 demographic (769,000).

"Countdown with Keith Olbermann" continued its dominance over CNN at 8 p.m., out-rating "Campbell Brown" by 35 percent in A25-54 (784,000 vs. 582,000) and 41 percent in total viewers (2,175,000 vs. 1,540,000). "Countdown" had its best month ever among A25-54 in October, and is up a tremendous 170 percent in A25-54 from Oct. 07 (784,000 vs. 290,000) and up 180 percent in total viewers (2,175,000 vs. 776,000). Excluding coverage of the presidential debates, "Countdown" is the #3 top-rated show in cable news in A25-54. "Countdown" is also the #1 cable news show among young viewers, Adults 18-34.

"Hardball with Chris Matthews" out-rated CNN's "Lou Dobbs" by 7 percent in A25-54 (458,000 vs. 428,000), delivering the best numbers at 7 p.m. since April 2003 (the start of the war in Iraq). "Hardball" is up a huge 242 percent vs. Oct. 07 (134,000) and up 214 percent in total viewers (423,000).

"Morning Joe" had its best month ever, averaging 224,000 A25-54, and delivered MSNBC's best morning ratings since April of 2003. "Morning Joe" is up 239 percent from Oct. 07 (66,000).

"Race for the White House with David Gregory" delivered 294,000 A25-54, up 272 percent from last year (79,000). These are the best ratings ever for "Race" and the highest ratings in the time period since April of 2003.

Built on the worldwide resources of NBC News, MSNBC defines news for the next generation with world-class reporting and a full schedule of live news coverage, political analysis and award-winning documentary programming -- 24 hours a day, seven days a week. MSNBC's home on the Internet is msnbc.com. Msnbc.com delivers a fuller spectrum of news. Drawing on its award-winning original journalism, NBC News heritage, trusted sources and Microsoft's advanced technologies, the site presents compelling, diverse and visually-engaging stories on the consumer's platform of choice. Nielsen Online reports more than 52 million unique visitors for August 2008, making msnbc.com the number one news site, ahead of Yahoo! News, CNN, ABC, CBS, and Fox News.