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Can CNN Compete With Headline News?

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Last week's cable audience numbers have just arrived. Since I'm going to be out of town next week when the full month statistics come in, I'll deliver my report a week early.

Based on last week's numbers, the biggest question is why is Headline News getting more 25-54 and 18-49 viewers than CNN? The 25-54 demographic is the most important since, in the news business, those are the numbers that advertisers buy. By that measure, I guess, Headline News brought in more revenue than CNN last week. In other areas, FoxNews had the most viewers in every category, except in 18-34s where MSNBC beat them, as usual.

Deadline Hollywood's Dominic Patten reported the primetime numbers were CNN's lowest in twenty years. That means that CNN 2012, available in more than 105 million homes, has a smaller audience now than it did back in 1992, when it reached only about 75-80 million households.

One week does not a disaster make, but CNN's ratings for the previous three weeks were not much better. CNN is a network having major audience problems, and nobody seems to be doing anything about it except putting up displays on newspaper stands all over Manhattan proclaiming how great the service is.

As I've written before, CNN continues to make a lot of money from its website, its overseas service and the subscription revenue it receives from local news stations that use its product. Once again, I hope that the people who are now in charge at Time Warner remember that CNN is the flagship of the entire CNN brand, and if it sinks it may destroy the entire organization.

I launched both CNN and Headline News, and I never believed the days would come when more people watched our tabloid version rather than what was supposed to be the quality product.