‘The Rachel Maddow Show’ Enjoys Record Year, Averages 2.9 Million Viewers In 2018

Maddow finished 2018 as the #2 show in cable news and was the most-watched program in December.

In 2018, MSNBC experienced its third consecutive record ratings year in weekday primetime while its flagship primetime program, The Rachel Maddow Show, finished the year off strongly. For the month of December, Maddow was the top-rated cable news program while finishing the year in second place.

In primetime (M-F 8-11 PM), MSNBC averaged 2.3 million total viewers for the year, finishing second in cable and representing the closest gap between it and first-place Fox News since 2001. For December, MSNBC overtook Fox News for the first month ever, delivering 2.51 million total viewers and 438,000 in the key demo. Fox News pulled in 2.47 million viewers overall and 407,000 in the demo.

In the month-to-date (11/26 – 12/17), Maddow led cable news across the board by drawing 3.1 million total viewers and 573,000 in the demographic. In comparison, Fox News’ Hannity, which was the top-rated program of the year, nabbed 2.7 million viewers overall and 424,000 in the 25-54 metric.

For the year, Maddow placed second in both the key demo and total viewership, averaging 582,000 and 2.9 million viewers, respectively. Maddow’s audience represented a record year for MSNBC during the 9 PM hour.

According to MSNBC’s press release on its ratings, the network’s growth over the past four years has far surpassed its cable news rivals:

“Since 2014, MSNBC’s average annual total viewer ratings have grown tremendously. In dayside, MSNBC’s average annual growth was +30%, more than doubling CNN (+12%) and quadrupling FOX News (+7%) in annual growth since 2014. In prime, MSNBC’s average annual growth was +27% (vs. CNN’s +15% and FOX News’ +7%) and in total day, MSNBC’s average annual growth was +23% (vs. CNN’s +12% and FOX News’ +7%). MSNBC’s annual growth since 2014 in A25-54 also beat out CNN and FOX News across all three key dayparts.”


Justin Baragona is the founder/publisher of Contemptor and a contributor to The Daily Beast. He was previously the Cable News Correspondent for Mediaite and prior to starting Contemptor, he worked on the editorial staff of PoliticusUSA. During that time, he had his work quoted by USA Today and BBC News, among others. Justin began his published career as a political writer for 411Mania. He resides in St. Louis, MO with his wife and pets.