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CNN’s Ratings Continue to Lag Behind Fox, MSNBC Despite Programming Changes

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


CNN continued to perform poorly during October compared to other major cable news networks, especially powerhouse Fox News. However, the network did manage to pick up some viewers year-over-year, according to a Tuesday report.

“Fox News again topped all the cable news networks in October, but only CNN and MSNBC gained viewers versus last year, as Israel-Gaza coverage and the House Speaker upheaval dominated the news cycle,” Deadline reported.

The outlet noted further: “In primetime, Fox News averaged 2.12 million viewers, down 7% from October 2022. MSNBC drew 1.33 million, up 12%, and CNN posted 722,000, an increase of 16%. In the 25-54 demo, Fox News averaged 256,000, off by 13%, while CNN averaged 167,000, up 25%, and MSNBC posted 132,000, up 16%.”

The outlet added: “In total, Fox News averaged 1.36 million, down 8%, followed by MSNBC with 895,000, up 19%, and CNN with 600,000, an increase of 12%. In the adults 25-54 demo, Fox News averaged 174,000, down 15%, while CNN posted 124,000, up 17%, and MSNBC was at 98,000, up 23%.”

Deadline further reported that the ratings numbers come from Nielsen via Fox News.

The top-rated cable news program on all networks, once again, was Fox News’ “The Five,” drawing an average of 3 million viewers. Fox’s “Jesse Watters Primetime,” who is also a co-host of The Five, came after that program and averaged 2.58 million viewers. Next came Sean Hannity with 2.41 million, Fox’s “Special Report” at 2.21 million, and “The Ingraham Angle,” hosted by Laura Ingraham, with 2.17 million.

“In adults 25-54, The Five averaged 316,000, followed by Hannity with 300,000, Gutfeld! with 292,000, Jesse Watters Primetime with 270,000, and The Ingraham Angle with 244,000,” Deadline reported, adding: “‘The Rachel Maddow Show,’ which airs on Mondays, averaged 2.5 million viewers, per MSNBC.”

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The news for CNN continues to be dismal, however, and in September, the network made cable news history, though not in a positive way.

“The network just hit an all-time low in viewership among the key demographic in primetime ratings, according to the latest data released by Nielsen,” TheStreet.com reported at the time.

The decline is “another sign of the difficulties facing incoming boss Mark Thompson,” the New York Post added.

The Post noted further: “The cable news network logged its worst weekend ratings on record in the all-important 25- to 54-year-old demo, according to the latest Nielsen data. CNN — which launched in 1980 and bills itself as ‘the most trusted name in news’ — totaled just 55,000 viewers for its weekend slate of shows that include Sunday political programs ‘State of the Union with Jake Tapper and Dana Bash,’ and ‘Fareed Zakaria GPS.’ The network’s Sunday primetime lineup, which featured ‘The Whole Story with Anderson Cooper’ and ‘Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy,’ drew 43,000 in the demo.”

The outlet also reported that the dismal weekend showing is the worst for the network since 1991, the earliest point at which television viewership data is readily available.

The report said that CNN’s overall viewership was not a lot better, logging around 345,000 total viewers, well behind Fox News’ 683,000 and left-wing MSNBC’s 424,000.

“Fox won the battle in the key demo as well, drawing 75,000 viewers to top MSNBC’s 47,000, which finished behind CNN,” The Post noted.

One insider told The Post: “CNN is a ratings embarrassment. At least with Thompson, they will have a direction.”

Thompson is the former CEO of The New York Times Company. He was picked to become CNN’s new chairman last month by parent company Warner Bros. Discovery after Chris Licht’s short-lived stint that industry insiders saw as a disaster.

He was let go in June after The Atlantic published a scathing profile that depicted him as paranoid and obsessed with his predecessor, Jeff Zucker.

Thompson’s tenure began on Oct. 9.

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Don Lemon and Brian Stelter were among the hosts who lost their jobs under Licht, while Kaitlin Collins, who took over Chris Cuomo’s prime-time slot, received a new assignment or got her own show. But that hasn’t gone well, either.

In August, for instance, weeks after her new show launched, CNN executives were already disappointed.

“The latest reporting from inside CNN, the basement-rated fake news outlet that will almost certainly be sold for parts within the next few years, suggests that the outlet’s leadership is not pleased with Kaitlan Collins, nor with the ratings of ‘The Source,’” which is the name of her show, Breitbart News’ John Nolte wrote in a column.

Nolte was referencing a RadarOnline.com report which quoted network insiders who are saying that six weeks into her new gig, Collins isn’t resonating with viewers, and her show is getting dismal ratings — which mirrors most of CNN’s programming.

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