Since debuting in July 2017, MSNBC’s The Beat with Ari Melber has carved out a niche in the cable news landscape due to its host’s tendency to deliver whip-smart legal and political analysis while simultaneously dropping deep hip-hop references. This mix of rap and politics has made Ari Melber’s show a bonafide hit at 6 PM, with it setting network records in 2018.
According to Nielsen, The Beat averaged 1.478 million total viewers and 259,000 in the key 25-54 demographic for the year. This marked the largest audience for MSNBC at 6 PM in the network’s history.
Compared to 2017, Melber witnessed growth of 35 percent in total viewership and 14 percent in the key demo. It should be noted that The Beat only debuted midway through 2017, so this is also taking into account other MSNBC programming for the year during that hour.
“Ari Melber and the team at The Beat spent 2018 securing exclusives, breaking news and producing creative segments that really connected with a whole new audience,” MSNBC Senior Vice President of Programming & Development Jonathan Wald said in a statement. “The ratings are just proof that viewers are responding to the show in ways we’ve never seen before at 6 pm.”
In 2017, MSNBC’s 6 PM programming was roughly on par with CNN in total viewership (1.094 million for MSNBC compared to 1.024 million for CNN) while drawing less than half of Fox News’ 2.448 million. Last year, The Beat pulled way ahead of CNN’s 901,000 total viewers while closing the gap with Fox, which fell to 2.272 million viewers overall.
Melber was also the only one of the three cable news shows at 6 PM to experience across-the-board year-to-year growth. CNN saw shrinkage of 12 percent in total viewership and 15 percent in the key demographic (335,000 to 286,000). Fox News dropped seven percent in both overall audience and the demo (445,000 to 412,000).
While The Beat has set network records, it is still in third place in the key advertising demo, behind both CNN and Fox News. So there is definitely room for even more growth here.