News-junkies know the headline that CNN ratings are in the tank, but a closer examination of the statistics shows that the drop in viewership is unsustainable. Even advertisers like “The Clapper” and “Ginsu Knives” may find CNN is not worth an ad-buy these days. And ads equal revenue for all television enterprises as even the most casual observer knows.
According to Adweek Network the “most trusted name in news” hit the skids by 41% during the daytime period and fell 36% in the all-important primetime slot when compared to the same week last year. Meanwhile, FOX News “claimed 11 of the top 25 cable telecasts overall in total viewers last week, including Hannity, Tucker Carlson Tonight, The Five, and The Ingraham Angle. In fact, Hannity made up three of the top 10 telecasts in all of basic cable,” Adweek reported.
Sliding into the Abyss
This rating survey places the hilariously nicknamed “Counterfeit News Network” in fifth place behind Nickelodeon. There’s some kind of irony in the fact that cartoons rate higher than CNN but I’ll leave that up to you to figure out. Here’s how the numbers work out regarding total viewers:
Basic Cable Top 10
- Fox News (1,426,000)
- MSNBC (1,145,000)
- ESPN (1,023,000)
- Nickelodeon (833,000)
- CNN (789,000)
- HGTV (750,000)
- Investigation Discovery (706,000)
- Hallmark Channel (628,000)
- USA (590,000)
- History (554,000)
An Unholy Mess
Since removing any semblance of objectivity from their network, CNN has experienced a clear slide down that slippery slope into a rating abyss. During the same week last year CNN carried wall-to-wall coverage of Hurricane Irma. Breaking news stories like Irma have traditionally been opportunities for Jeff Zucker’s network to excel, which may have contributed to the massive drop in ratings this year – but certainly cannot account for all of it.
Wondering if CNN has learned their lesson? Probably not. The cable news network has made some recent moves that show it may be doubling-down on what has become their unique brand of signature advocacy journalism. Jim Sciutto, who was involved in reporting the fake news story involving Lanny Davis and Michael Cohen, has been elevated to the position of morning co-host. Why give a guy who screwed up a promotion? You tell me.
But all is not lost for those on the left. A bright spot appears to be MSNBC which posted a 4% gain in total viewers. The Rachel Maddow Show had another strong rating performance, and MSNBC’s numbers look to be creeping up on Fox which slipped to number two behind ESPN during the Labor Day week – although the sports network’s jump in ratings seems to be the result of U.S. Open and the 2018 Women’s Tennis Championship Open.
As American news outlets become increasingly polarized in their reporting, these numbers demonstrate that those on the left tune into MSNBC and those on the right to FOX. But fewer and fewer on the left or right are tuning into CNN. And therein lies the network’s greatest dilemma. If the left doesn’t like them and the right can’t stand them, the question CNN executives have to ask themselves is where does that leave them?
Thus far the answer seems to be in the ratings tank.