CNN Gets Served: Failing Network Loses To Food Network In Latest Ratings


“Take that, Hallmark Channel!”

That could be one of the phrases being kicked around CNN’s marketing department, as the network looks for slogans to promote its performance in last week’s ratings of basic cable channels.

According to the numbers compiled by Nielsen Media Research, CNN’s prime-time programming attracted an average viewership of 758,000 from June 18-24 for the 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. (Eastern) time period.

Among cable news networks, that number is good for third — which doesn’t sound too bad until you remember there are only three cable news networks.

And the difference between the three wasn’t even close. Fox News Channel was tops among all cable channels with an average of just over 2 million prime-time viewers for the week. MSNBC was in second with 1.49 million.

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From there, you have to go a ways down the list before tripping across the letters CNN.

ESPN, USA Network and HGTV round out the top five in prime-time viewership.

The next five? Still, no CNN here, either. Instead we have TBS, FX, Investigation Discovery, History and Discovery.

Get past Food Network and A&E Network and that’s where you’ll find CNN, an unlucky 13th in prime-time viewership last week, beating out TLC and Hallmark Channel among the top 15 most-watched cable networks.

Do CNN's rating struggles surprise you?

Yep, more people craved watching people cook and eat food than those who craved the offerings from CNN.

The numbers were even uglier when you look at the numbers for the 25-54 demographic — the one advertisers covet. In that group, CNN was ranked 18th. Fox News was first among cable news networks and fifth among all cable networks in the demo. MSNBC was 15th overall.

CNN fares better in daytime, ranking No. 7 among cable networks in total-day viewership (24-hour) viewership. That’s the good news. The bad news is it still lags far behind Fox News and MSNBC, who rank Nos. 1 and 2 and that category.

These have to be concerning numbers among executives at the flagship network of cable news, especially since last week wasn’t a typical week with a slow summer news cycle. The news networks were wall-to-wall with “Crisis at the Border” programming and reaction to President Trump’s signing of an executive order ending separations of children from their illegal immigrant parents who are caught entering the country.

After all, losing to Fox News is nothing new — Fox has been the most-watched of all cable networks for 24 consecutive weeks, both in terms of prime time and across the entire broadcast day, according to AdWeek.

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But with CNN heavyweights Anderson Cooper, Chris Cuomo and Don Lemon anchoring the network’s prime-time lineup, you wouldn’t think the Food Network would stand a chance.

But the bottom line says otherwise; in fact, CNN’s prime time viewership declined 5 percent from the same period a year ago. Maybe the trio of Cooper, Cuomo and Lemon aren’t such heavyweights after all.

Of course, the Hallmark Channel is still eating CNN’s dust in the ratings, despite the endless array of cinematic classics being churned out by that fine network. But then again, Hallmark’s “June Weddings Marathon” still has another week to go and a two-week blitz of holiday favorites are on tap for next month, so CNN better up its game if it wants to maintain its lofty 13th place in the ratings.

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Scott Kelnhofer is a writer for The Western Journal and Conservative Tribune. A native of Milwaukee, he currently resides in Phoenix.
Scott Kelnhofer is a writer for The Western Journal and Conservative Tribune. He has more than 20 years of experience in print and broadcast journalism. A native of Milwaukee, he has resided in Phoenix since 2012.
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