Thursday, May 26, 2022
Bringing the Latest in News Straight to Your Screen


CNN’s Ratings Collapse: Prime Time Down Nearly 70% In Key Demo

By News Creatives Authors , in Business , at January 1, 1970

It has been a very bad month for CNN. On February 2, the network’s talismanic leader, Jeff Zucker, resigned under pressure after the continuing investigation into prime time anchor Chris Cuomo’s time at the network uncovered a consensual relationship with CNN chief marketing officer Allison Gollust. “I was required to disclose (the relationship) when it began but I didn’t,” Zucker said in an email to CNN staff. “I was wrong. As a result, I am resigning today.”

Zucker’s exit has led to a series of damaging reports, including a New York Times story detailing Gollust’s role in influencing the questions to be asked during a live interview with then-Governor Andrew Cuomo. Gollust was forced to resign from CNN on February 15. She denies violating journalistic norms in passing along suggested questions from Cuomo—for whom she had worked previously—to network producers.

ADVERTISEMENT

MORE FROM FORBESJeff Zucker’s Sudden Exit Comes At A Critical Moment For CNN

Now, a review of ratings data compiled by Nielsen shows the internal chaos at the network is mirrored by deep declines in viewership across all day parts—total day and prime time. Through February 15, CNN’s average prime time audience among viewers 25-54—the key demographic valued by advertisers—was just 126,000, representing a 69% drop from the same period one year ago. Among total viewers, the average audience was 534,000, a decline of 68% from 2021.

To be fair to CNN, cable news viewership has dropped from a year ago, with the fallout from the 2020 election and the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol driving high viewership. MSNBC saw a 62% drop among viewers 25-54 year-over-year, and a 47% decline among all viewers. Fox News Channel was the only cable news network to increase its viewership—up 6% in the key demo and up 2% among total viewers—compared to the same period in 2021.

ADVERTISEMENT

MORE FROM FORBESCNN, Fox News Split Prime Time Victories In February Cable Ratings

One year ago, CNN had its best-ever results in the key February ratings period, and seemed on the verge of toppling Fox News Channel from its long-time status as the unrivaled ratings leader in cable news. CNN that month drew an average audience of 411,000 viewers in the key demo, followed by FNC (365,000 viewers) and MSNBC (340,000 viewers). Among total viewers, Fox News finished first with 2.473 million viewers in prime, followed by MSNBC (2.193 million viewers) and CNN (1.687 million viewers).

ADVERTISEMENT

Last year, Cuomo Prime Time was regularly the network’s highest-rated hour, and drew an average audience in February 2021 of 466,000 viewers, making it the fourth most-watched show in cable news among viewers 25-54, behind MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show, FNC’s Tucker Carlson Tonight and CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360. But since Cuomo was fired on December 4, ratings in the 9 p.m. ET hour have dropped 56% in the key demo and 53% among all viewers.

Since the start of February, CNN’s 9 p.m. hour has slipped 14% among both total viewers and viewers in the key demo, and compared to the same period one year ago, CNN’s 9 p.m. has lost nearly three-quarters of its audience, dropping 74% among total viewers and 73% among viewers in the key demo.

MORE FROM FORBESCNN Fires Chris Cuomo

ADVERTISEMENT

And the ratings slide has continued in the aftermath of Zucker’s exit, with CNN’s prime time ratings down 20% among total viewers between February 2 and February 15, compared to the previous month (December 27 through February 1), according to Nielsen ratings data. Among viewers 25-54, the decline for the same period was 15%.

The ratings losses heighten the drama for CNN, with no permanent replacement yet named for 9 p.m. and a sense the network is leaderless and adrift since Zucker’s sudden resignation. In the weeks before Zucker resigned, CNN had been heavily promoting the imminent debut of its long-planned streaming service, CNN+, for which the network had been hiring—both technical and editorial staff in New York and well-known names as hosts of shows. CNN+ had been a project advanced by Zucker, and its future has now been drawn into question.

ADVERTISEMENT

Adding to the internal chaos at CNN is the looming merger of WarnerMedia, CNN’s parent company, with Discovery, which will give Discovery CEO David Zaslav control of CNN, Warner Bros., and HBO. His vision for the network — and the ultimate format of CNN+ — remains unclear.

But one other ratings trend may be of concern to Zaslav: CNN’s long-held claim to be the dominant cable news network for major breaking news. For 40 years, CNN has been the network viewers turned to in times of war, terrorism and major news, but recent ratings data show that’s changed.

In January, when a rabbi and three members of his Dallas-Fort Worth-area synagogue were taken hostage, Fox News Channel’s ratings during the ongoing coverage in Texas doubled that of CNN. The network’s live coverage of President Biden’s second formal press conference placed second among viewers 25-54, but finished third behind Fox News and MSNBC among total viewers.

ADVERTISEMENT

Comments


Leave a Reply


Your email address will not be published.