CNN's Free Fall Gets Even Worse as Network Hits Ratings Rock Bottom Not Seen in Decades
The network conservatives once labeled the “Clinton News Network” at the height of its influence might now wear the label of “Cratering News Network,” based on the most recent ratings.
The weakness is most glaring in the population advertisers covet the most, Fox News reported Tuesday, citing Nielsen Media Research.
Because they are most likely to have disposable income, advertisers want as many viewers in the 25-54 demographic as they can get. Last week, CNN averaged only 84,000 viewers in that age range during the prime-time hours of 8 p.m. to 11 p.m.
In contrast, rival Fox News averaged 219,000 viewers.
The outlet reported that its archives show the last time CNN had a prime-time 25-54 audience this small was the week of Sept. 30, 1991.
Total day viewership was not much better for the liberal cable network. CNN averaged 80,000 viewers in the key demographic, well below the Fox News average of 150,000 viewers.
The overall picture was dark for CNN. With Fox News on top at almost 2 million primetime viewers, CNN trickled in at 21st with an average of 383,000 viewers. In the important 25-54 age range, it was 33rd among basic cable networks.
CNN has been shuffling its pieces in an attempt to emerge from its days as an anti-Trump echo chamber. It uses its 9 p.m. slot for a mix of offerings keyed to the news.
However, that has been a weak link in its primetime offerings. As noted by The New York Times, in one recent week, Anderson Cooper’s 8 p.m. program attracted an average audience of 584,000 viewers, while the 9 p.m. slot had only 407,000 — a 30 percent drop.
CNN is also becoming the butt of jokes.
The Times noted that at a recent Gridiron Club dinner in Washington, Secretary of State Antony Blinken poked fun at the network.
“According to the guest list, there are 600 attendees here tonight. CNN would kill for an audience like that,” he said.
CNN said in a statement to the Times on Thursday that it is focused on journalism, not ratings.
“We’ve been openly experimenting with a variety of programming directions over the past few weeks. Without an established format, cadence or promotion for that hour, the network has focused exclusively on producing smart and meaningful content — not on ratings,” the statement said.
“But man, they are getting a lot wrong while the ratings appear damned to irrelevance,” Kyle Koster wrote Friday on The Big Lead.
“Even when CNN was a punching bag and target for the right, it was in the conversation. Now it feels as though people don’t even glance up from their devices at the airport to see what segment they’re doing on mute,” Koster said.
“Getting something out of the 9 p.m. slot with ad hoc specials that are announced mere days before and playing musical chairs does not seem to be a winning strategy,” he wrote. “There are years and years of learned behavior that a specific anchor is going to be there for cable news’ most competitive hour that must be unlearned.
“At some point, maybe one starts to wonder if asking everyone to unlearn it has a higher chance of succeeding than finding a suitable permanent replacement for Chris Cuomo.”
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