CNN’s prime-time ratings drop 61% in March: Nielsen data

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March 30, 2023 | 1:13 p.m


CNN’s primetime ratings are down 61% this month — the largest drop in viewership among the Big Three news giants, according to the latest numbers from Nielsen.

The drop in ratings is a bad omen for CNN, which has struggled to right the ship since parent company Warner Bros. commissioned the show. Discovery’s Chris Licht has been on a mission to change the news channel for over a year.

Despite the bad reviews, Licht has the support of his boss, the CEO of Warner Bros. Pictures. Discovery’s David Zaslav, who gave a pep talk to network executives urging them to stay away from political and partisan commentary.

“The ratings are damned,” he said. “Let’s focus on who we are. This is our mission. This is our heritage. This is our journey together.”

A CNN spokesperson told The Post, “CNN is the top five cable networks in total per day, has the youngest audience in cable news, reaches the most viewers in cable news on demo, and is the No. 1 digital news platform in the world.”

CNN’s primetime ratings fell 61% in the month of March, according to the most recent Nielsen ratings.
ERIK S LESSER / EPA-EFE / Shutterstock

“CNN’s journalism impact and brand reach cannot be measured with one metric,” the spokesperson told The Post.

A source close to the situation noted that viewership for all cable networks has plummeted due to the accelerating trend of subscribers cutting the cord and opting for cheaper streaming services like Netflix and Hulu.

CNN and other cable networks are also hampered by a relatively slow news cycle, which explains why they have struggled to replicate the same audience interest as a year ago, when Russia invaded Ukraine.

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CNN’s Anderson Cooper is pictured above. The network touts the fact that his show “AC360” has regularly outperformed MSNBC’s Chris Hayes in the 8 p.m.
Getty Images for CNN

CNN has seen strong ratings under Licht’s predecessor, Jeff Zucker, and Zaslav said he realized a more partisan approach could bring in more viewers and money, but “that’s not what I came here to do,” according to a transcript of Zaslav’s letter.

He said he hopes the network can figure out what works and what doesn’t. He urged managers not to worry about outside noise.

Fox News averaged 2.09 million prime-time viewers in March, MSNBC’s 1.14 million and CNN’s 473K, according to The Associated Press quoted Nielsen figures.

In the 25-54 demographic for advertisers, CNN is seeing some of its lowest numbers in decades.

Poor ratings also plagued other parts of CNN’s broadcast schedule.

“CNN This Morning,” the morning program that features co-hosts Don Lemon, Caitlan Collins and Bobby Harlow, averaged just 359,000 viewers last quarter, According to figures quoted by Mediaite.

But that show’s audience jumps to a total of 438,000 viewers when the simulcast on CNN’s sister station HLN is counted.

It was the 40th most watched program on satellite news.

Chris Licht has been hired to turn around CNN’s fortunes following the departure of his predecessor, Jeff Zucker.
WireImage

By comparison, MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” averaged 846,000 viewers, while Fox News’ “Fox & Friends” broadcast came out on top with an average of 1.21 million viewers.

CNN This Morning made headlines as turmoil and tensions between the co-hosts surfaced.

Lemon was forced to apologize and undergo sensitivity training after he said on air last month that Nikki Haley, the 51-year-old Republican presidential candidate, was “not in her prime.”

Weeks earlier, Lemon had reportedly chewed Collins in full view of his colleagues because he was annoyed that she was interrupting him during a broadcast.

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The network’s total daily viewership fell 27% in the most recent quarter.

To make matters worse, CNN saw a 40% drop in today’s viewership in the advertiser’s coveted 25-54 demographic.

Fox News, which shares co-ownership with The Post, remained the most-watched cable news channel in the country last quarter.

CNN’s morning show “CNN This Morning” ran into tension between co-hosts Caitlan Collins (far left), Don Lemon (center), and Bobby Harlow.
Stephen Lufkin/Shutterstock

The network saw a more moderate decline in total viewers for the day as well as viewers for the 25-54 demo.

MSNBC, the Comcast-owned cable group, dropped 1% in total viewers for the day and 9% in the 25-54 demo.

While MSNBC surpasses CNN in total viewership, CNN leads its competitor in the demo 25-54.

CNN’s primetime shows also outperformed MSNBC’s shows in the key demographic.

Among viewers ages 25 to 54, Erin Burnett’s “Outfront” consistently beats Joe Reid of MSNBC’s “The ReidOut” at 7 p.m. EST.

At 8 p.m., Anderson Cooper of “AC360” regularly outpaced Chris Hayes in the demo 25-54.

But in March, MSNBC’s Hayes and Reid beat Cooper and Burnett in the demo 25-54.

In total viewership, Hayes’ “All In” and ReidOut’s ReidOut regularly dominated CNN’s Cooper and Burnett.

MSNBC’s latest Sunday show, “Inside with Jen Psaki,” which debuted earlier this month, beat out both Fox News and CNN in total viewership last week.

Licht is said to be looking to shake up primetime with the addition of blockbuster names, including CBS morning star Gayle King and basketball loudmouth Charles Barkley.

CNN is also set to launch “CNN News Central,” its midday news show designed to replicate the feel of election night.

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David Zaslav, CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery, gave Licht a vote of confidence.
AP

The show kicks off Monday, with John Berman, Kate Baldwin, and Sarah Sydner hosting the first three-hour blockbuster from the studios in New York City.

Brianna Keilar, Boris Sanchez and Jim Cioto will run the 1-4 p.m. from Washington, D.C.

The Post requested comment from MSNBC and Fox News.

with wire


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3/30/23



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