Being in media, I like to check out the industry's rags. Recently, I have done something I have done for many years, seen a story that should be a broken record to any competitor of the Fox News Network. The article ran in TV Newser, which is a newsletter of Mediabistro, and was titled, "Q2 2013 Ratings: Fox News #1 for 11 1/2 Years." It reported:
Fox News Channel has just finished the second quarter of 2103 as the #1 cable news network for 46 straight quarters...
The ratings for Q2 2013, (Nielsen Live + Same Day data):
Primetime (Mon-Sun): 1,889,000 Total Viewers / 317,000 A25-54
Total Day Mon-Sun): 1,179,000 Total Viewers / 238,000 A25-54
You would think that after a decade of being perennially in second place in cable news because of Fox, CNN would consider doing something about it. CNN is in a very unique and powerful position of owning more than one cable news network. CNN is the more famous of the two, but it also owns a "mini me" called Headline News.
Both channels are CNN properties, but instead of behaving like a competitive media company by offering two similar (both news) products with very different emphasis (such as editorial focus), it created redundant networks that only take audience from one another. When it was originally launched two years after its parent company (CNN was created in 1980), the network was called "CNN 2." It is too bad it changed its name, because that was an apt and more honest description of the channel -- a weak, mirrored image of CNN. Today, it is still that, offering programs that would essentially be an annex of CNN's, with little originality. CNN's viewers would naturally be torn between the major network and its little brother. Does it not make sense that a company in the rating business would want to draw numbers away from its actual competitors? The biggest of those (and the starkest in contrast from an editorial perspective) is Fox News, which consistently gets hundreds of thousands of more viewers than CNN during those crucial prime time hours. Currently, HLN and CNN are consistently second or third (or even fourth for HLN) to Fox News, but combined, they would often beat the Murdoch led giant.
How would they combine them? Possibly by changing HLN into a conservative news network and giving its viewers a true choice in its offerings. Sure, some (though not many) would be offended and move to MSNBC, but the many more from both HLN and CNN going to one would make it a far more formidable player in cable news and give Fox a run for its money. Meanwhile, the growing conservative audience that finds itself continuously disgruntled by the lack of major media options would have another channel for its information and news. This is a no-brainer for CNN from a business perspective.
Yet, CNN has known it has suffered from the this division of audience since the early '80s, when Headline News was launched. Even the most casual observer has no choice but to conclude that the Cable News Network is not driven by ratings, as its stockholders and the news viewing audience would hope. Instead, it appears more motivated by ideology. It would be great if someone with a desire to treat the network like a business would come and take it over.
Kevin Price is publisher and editor in chief of US Daily Review and Host of the Price of Business on 1110 AM KTEK in Houston, Texas. He is the author of Empowerment to the People and has twice received the George Washington Honor Medal in Communications from the Freedom Foundation at Valley Forge. His column is nationally syndicated and he is a frequent guest on major media around the country, being found on Fox News, Fox Business, and other networks. For more see KevinPriceCentral.com.