Woe Is CNN: Hits 10 Year Lows In Total Day & Worst Primetime Ratings in Nearly Two Years

Categories: Cable News Ratings

Written By

May 1st, 2012


In total day, CNN delivered its lowest-rated month with total viewers and Adults 25-54 in over a decade -- since August 2001 .  Additionally, compared to last year, the network is down 21% in total viewers and 29% in adults 25-54.  FNC was up and MSNBC down slightly in demo for the month.

In primetime, CNN had its lowest rated month in nearly two years since August 2010 with total viewers  and adults 25-54.  Besides it being CNN’s sixth lowest rated primetime ever in total viewers, the network was down 16% in P2+ and down 22% in 25-54. FNC was flat in total viewers and MSNBC was down slightly. Both FNC & MSNBC were down 9% with adults 25-54 in primetime versus last year.

APRIL 2012 Vs. APRIL 2011 NIELSEN NUMBERS (7 day week, L+SD):


FNC: 1,086,000 total viewers – up 2%; (273,000 in 25-54 – up 1%)
MSNBC: 425,000 total viewers – flat, 0%; (139,000 in 25-54 – down 5%)
CNN: 357,000 total viewers – down 21%; (108,000 in 25-54 – down 29%)


FNC: 1,850,000 total viewers – flat, 0%; (395,000 in 25-54 – down 9%)
MSNBC: 754,000 total viewers – down 5%; (236,000 in 25-54 – down 9%)
CNN: 508,000 total viewers – down 16%; (149,000 in 25-54 – down 22%)

Making matters worse, every single CNN hour was down versus last April, with all shows but one down double digits. Only Anderson Cooper at 8pm vs. last year's In The Arena had a single digit drop Y/Y (8%). Update: for some reason the data for Piers Morgan wasn't included in the table below, .  It too was down double digits in the adults 25-54 demo (14% 161K in April 2012 vs. 188K in April 2011) but down only 9% in total viewers (567K this year vs. 625K last year).

APRIL '12 (LIVE+SD) FINAL Competitive Program Analysis (excluding breaking news and specials)
Year-to-Year % Differences
P2+ A25-54
APR'12 APR'11 AA (000) AA (000)
SU-TH 5-6A EARLY START WORLD ONE 141 174 -19% 61 85 -28%
M-F 7A-9A STARTING POINT AMERICAN MORNING 261 350 -25% 101 141 -28%
M-F 9A-11A CNN NEWSROOM CNN NEWSROOM 384 464 -17% 124 155 -20%
M-F 11A-12P CNN NEWSROOM CNN NEWSROOM 386 484 -20% 124 156 -21%
M-F 12P-1P CNN NEWSROOM CNN NEWSROOM 396 510 -22% 117 161 -27%
M-F 1P-2P CNN NEWSROOM CNN NEWSROOM 417 603 -31% 118 178 -34%
M-F 2P-3P CNN NEWSROOM CNN NEWSROOM 425 599 -29% 120 170 -29%
M-F 3P-4P CNN NEWSROOM CNN NEWSROOM 445 564 -21% 113 160 -29%
M-F 4P-5P SITUATION ROOM CNN NEWSROOM 538 563 -4% 123 162 -24%
M-F 5P-6P SITUATION ROOM SITUATION ROOM 557 630 -12% 131 173 -24%
M-F 6P-7P JOHN KING USA SITUATION ROOM 435 570 -24% 106 179 -41%
M-F 7P-8P ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT JOHN KING USA 409 523 -22% 113 172 -34%
M-F 8P-9P ANDERSON COOPER IN THE ARENA 504 515 -2% 144 157 -8%
M-F 10P-11P ANDERSON COOPER 360 ANDERSON COOPER 360 522 706 -26% 175 243 -28%
M-F 11P-12A E.BURNETT OUTFRONT ANDERSON COOPER 360 326 525 -38% 124 212 -42%
M-F 10P-12A COOPER 360/OUTFRONT ANDERSON COOPER 360 422 615 -31% 149 227 -34%
APRIL'11: 03/28/2011 - 04/22/2011
APRIL12: 03/26/2012 - 04/27/2012


Nielsen TV Ratings: ©2012 The Nielsen Company. All Rights Reserved.

  • Ralph Hahn

    Call me crazy, call me irrestible…but, WHAT IF CNN hired Glenn Beck for 6pm weeknights. I’m sure that he would draw big numbers. And, with a little ‘content adjustment’, CNN could sell Glenn. Just sayin’….

  • Coffee Steve

    This is a shame, a once mighty and great news network has allowed themselves to fall. I for many years enjoyed CNN, and I would hope this wakes the exces up and they do a complete re-vamp.

  • Coffee Steve


    I’m not sure what Becks ratings were when he left CNN for Fox, but he couldn’t hurt if he went back.

  • rich asleson


  • Andies

    They need to get rid of John King and Erin Brunett.. if you noticed, CNN gets higher through out the day and peaks with the situation room but then goes back low when it hits John King and then Erin.. because of that, it hurts Anderson Cooper.. They need something good on CNN.. and Soledad in th morning is turning out to be a big bust.. They need to give in just a little and hire some people that will get people talking..

  • MiniMart

    Somewhere, Rick Sanchez is laughing his head off…

  • Hillbilly

    @Robert Seidman

    Good job. Lots of info. FNC only one not to have lost viewers.

  • b

    all anyone had to do was watch Piers Morgan’s interview with Jonah Goldberg for 5-minutes and you would be fully in-the-know as why CNN is full of a bunch of laughable losers…

  • kyle

    CNN is the NBC of News

  • Masterbreel

    Maybe just nothing happend… (I)

  • Joan

    Necks ratings on HLN were great! I was quite a fan even then. They had a falling out with him right around the time they started showing their liberal drawers!

  • AppleStinx

    Glen Beck was averaging a little over 300K P2+ with some 110K A25-54 in his last years on HLN. No disrespect meant to Beck, but if he went back to CNN/HLN, I don’t think he would get 1 million viewers. On the other hand, Campbell Brown would get 1 million P2+ if she ever went on FNC. The network they are on and the freedoms/constraints they have there have something to do with the ratings they get, IMHO.

  • dana

    CNN’s hay days also had larry king in his prime, and Lou Dobbs ,who had good ratings but those were the days CNN was arrogant and their politics went from center to left…soon as you go left, the rating plunge…there is no left media station that pulls big…

  • Casey

    CNN is pathetic. Maybe they would get viewers if they stopped talking about YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook every 10 minutes. All they do is report trivial stuff and they never actually go beyond the surface. The only time CNN actually gets viewers is during election season because people are familiar with the name “CNN” so they tune to the channel. It’s actually sad because MSNBC and Fox offer way better coverage and opinions.

  • CNN fan

    Casey, I totally agree. CNN has gone left or right, they’ve just gone stupid. it has been difficult to watch the steady decline of a once great news station. CNNI is actually decent but much of CNN domestic is superficial crap.

  • CNN fan

    Oops, I meant hasn’t “gone left or right”, not has.

  • DD

    Casey, while I agree, I also think CNN is just trying to stay in with the times – people don’t have that much of an interest in actual news anymore… everyone is more into YouTube news, celebrity news, etc so they’re just trying to do what they can to get viewers, but obviously it’s not working.

  • AniMatsuri

    From time to time CNN will get big ratings when big events break. But for the day to day stuff people when to watch, its FNC.

  • dana

    DD: The Dumbing Down Of America…the reason our status in the world is falling..no cares about the news, history, lessons learned from past mistakes, we have people who never ran businesses making policies for our economy…sad state of affairs, no standards…anyone who does the opposite will reap all the wealth in this country unchallenged…

  • Ralph Hahn

    @AniMatsuri: >>>From time to time CNN will get big ratings when big events break <<< Yeah. Those who get their news strictly from the alphabet networks or a local newscast, only turn to CNN thinking that they're still the only game in town for all news on cable.

    This is not 1987 and Ted Turner hasn't been calling the shots since he sold to Time-Warner.

    The other news-nets should hope for a big technical snafu at CNN when "Major Breaking News" occurs. lol

© 2015 Tribune Digital Ventures