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Reese Schonfeld

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For CNN, April Is the Cruelest Month Again

Posted: 05/ 1/2012 4:49 pm

CNN ought to do whatever it can to cut April out of the calendar. Last year was bad enough, but this year CNN's audience shrunk by 21% over the total day and 16% in primetime. The demographics were just as bad, CNN was down 24% among 18-49s and 18-34s. It's 25-54 year old audience (the audience it gets paid for) was down 22% and primetime was just as bad--down 21% in total audience, 28% in 18-49s, 29% in 18-34s and 29% in 25-54s. I realize that last April included the "Arab Spring", but if it takes a continental revolution to save CNN, CNN may not be worth saving.

None of the other news networks did especially well year to year either. FoxNews was down 1% in primetime, but gained 1% in total day. MSNBC dropped 6% in primetime, and broke even in total day. The same was true in the demos, with Fox showing single digit losses in primetime and single digit gains in total day, except for 18-34s, where they were down 2%. MSNBC had mixed results -- in 18-49s they were down 12% while 18-34s they were up 12%, in 25-54s they lost 6%.

CNN's double digit losses proved once again its lack of audience unless hot news is breaking. Of minor interest, Headline News primetime audience grew by at least 20% in every category. Their overall audience is still the smallest in the news category, but they seem to be doing something right. Its total day audience grew by 20%.

We've thrown an awful lot of numbers at you, but just to make it clear:

Last week CNN averaged 292,000 households viewing every hour. FoxNews was the 7th most watched cable network with 873,000 households. MSNBC was 30th with 363,000 households and CNN was 35th with 70,000 fewer than MSNBC.

In comparison with print: Seventeen American newspapers have more circulation than that. CNN was supposed to be the national news source, now The Minneapolis Star Tribune has circulation numbers bigger than CNN's average hourly audience. Time Warner owns CNN. It also owns Time magazine, which has a weekly circulation of 3,376,226. If they can get that many readers, somebody up there must know how to attract viewers.

 
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