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

    @b: Maybe Larry King put out a curse on CNN in his former long-time timeslot?

  • serg

    Time to cut Erin and Piers loose… bring in Keith.

  • Fake Me Out


    CNN should air repeats of Dark Shadows 24/7


  • j

    CNN, The most BIASED name in news! LOL! and HLN used to be a good news channel a long time ago. Until, they add all the talking heads like Nancy Grace on. Totally ruined a once good news channel! CNN is now a Fox News and MSNBC Triple-A affiette! LOL!

  • Markos

    It’s interesting the only hour left out of the comparison is the 9pm hour. I wonder why. But anyways, from what I gather, Piers Morgan is hovering around Larry King’s lows, or is just slightly above that. The solution for CNN would be a double revamp – first get rid of Walton, Jautz, Maddox and the gang and let the new management get rid of all the Burnetts and Morgans that can’t be fixed.

  • Mark

    Maybe they should do more coverage on Trayvon Martin…

  • E. Benz

    CNN is intellectually dishonest in their reporting and commentary which explains why Fox News Cable has stayed on top for the last 10 years. Note to CNN: “Try being fair and balanced for a change.”

  • ig gy.

    I DVR Gupta and Zakaria.

    CNN’s graphics are extremely annoying. There’s always something sliding or flashing. It’s worse than the ticker.

  • tvfanaddict

    I thought I would hate The Five @5:00p.m. on Fox. It’s not only incredibly informational and rational, but the caring between these five (or 7 if you include great fill-ins) is never concealed. Even when Bob Beckel, the lone liberal, goes over the line with grumpiness, or the other four do the same on the right, you know these people respect and care for each other OFF set, too. That’s called being smart and thus the recipe for success in today’s ever nastier media. All CNN has to do is watch Fox News for a couple of days and get their noses out of their butts to get better news programming!!! Also, Megyn Kelly, Niel Cavuto, Brett Baier, Charles Krauthammer, Dana Perino, Juan Williams, Red Eye with the extremely intelligent Greg gutfeld, Fox Sunday with Chris Wallace, and a whole lot more!!! (PS: but my opinion doesn’t count. I’m only 59 yo with the spending ability unlike the demo with NO extra $$$ to spend on advertisers that ALL the networks hang on. Baby Boomers ARE getting older and we are NOT our parents generation… Just saying…..) Also, agreed Dana!!

  • Ralph Hahn

    @tvfanaddict: I’m 58 years young, so welcome to The Club. You’re dead on about The Five. You’re dead wrong about our opinions. We’ve earned the right to have a say and to be heard. I think that the MAD Men on Madison Avenue must still have the same working & drinking habits that they had during the mid-1960s. Because, it seems that the advertising business hasn’t changed. When we turn 55, we’re out of the money demo but we may just have more disposable income than the 18-49ers that TV caters to.

    Back to the show. Speaking as a conservative Republican, I love Bob Beckel. People have said that it should be 3-2 Republican v. Democrat, but the Dems only need Beckel. The only thing he does that I don’t like is face the camera when it’s on him during a conversation at the table. As someone who had created and produced a regional political talk show for eight years, that’s a no no. Just like debates. When you’re answering a reporter’s question, face the reporter, not the camera. When you have an opening or closing statement, THEN you face the camera (the home audience).

    We’re supposed to be eavesdroppers and they should face just each other, except for the times one of the hosts goes into a commercial break and comes out of one.

    I think the addition of Greg Gutfeld was a terrific idea. He’s also on O”Reilly on Fridays about the dumbest things that happened during the week, but it’s a boring segment and I love Bill O. I think “Red Eye” needs some re-tooling, like the ‘talking’ NY Times. And, am I the only one who does not find Andy Levy funny?

    The Five also features sometimes appropriate songs going into and coming out of the breaks. . There’s one of the primary Five that I would replace, but I’ll leave that to your imagination. ;-)

  • Columbo

    Great to see. Hopefully, it sinks even further.

  • Hal

    So the ACN (Anderson Cooper Network) is struggling huh? Overexposure of their “star” I’m guessing. He’s spread too thin with his daytime chat show and 2 hours of prime time. It’s a real shame there’s such a shortage of journalists out there who could help contribute…

  • Scandalfan

    I guess folks prefer trash like FN to good unbiased news like CNN.

  • Luke

    CNN should go back to the image of hard hitting, relevant news. Piers Morgan and all these fluff needs to go. Become the destination for serious viewers who want news and not viewpoints.

  • Fake Me Out

    @CNN fan “… CNNI is actually decent but much of CNN domestic is superficial crap.

    I 110% agree with this statement … or from what little CNNI we can catch anyways. I really REALLY wish it was CNNI rather the the US feed we get up here as the US feed is almost unwatchable since it’s more a gossip and what blond blue eyed girl went missing this week channel. If I want mindless dreck I’ll shave off 25 IQ points, watch Faux & TMZ, and listen to the drug addled ravings of a tubby perv on radio.


  • AppleStinx

    Ooh la la. Here comes again, that sui generis word in the cable news world: “Faux”.

  • Alex

    CNN sucks !!

  • tvfanaddict

    Truth always hurts. That’s why it’s SO hard to get it on any news channel EXCEPT Fox News here in the led U.S. I find myself quite frightened that people have such tunnel vision when it comes to what is “faux” and what is not. FMO must get his news from the really intelligent and oh so smart Bill Maher or even better Stephen Colbert. Yeah, I’m not worried about that generation running our country!!! “Faux” is people who actually think the liberal left are oh so intelligent and have realistic ideas on how to bring this country and it’s nearly unmanageable debt back under control just by flexing their intellectual brains! Oh, right. I forgot. Faux brains. We’re in SO much trouble….. @Ralph Hahn. Disposible income – I had a brain cramp while writing the above and could NOT for the life of me come up with that word when I needed it most ;p . Thanks for helping me make my point. (Truth is they’re afraid of us – we already are the largest demographic who watch TV and spend our money.) Difference between us and the generation before us is that WE started and perfected the rebellious attitude. We are huge in number, intellect, and energy. We know what’s what – it’s way too hard to keep us ignorant, so instead, they are working very hard to shut us up. If this wasn’t so true and scary – I’d laugh. We need to get off our butts and do what WE started – stand up anrd be counted and bring some sanity back into politics before this country no longer matters…. Just saying…..

  • Rick

    The problem is so many of the people commenting on this site are correct.
    CNN news is shallow. By trying to be indifferent, they present neither opinion indepth. FNC and MSNBC only present the other opinion indepth and fail to look at the the flaws in own opinion. But note they address “OPINION”.

    We have cellebrity jounalism. The news has become about who they are and what their opinion is, who they know and that opinion and very little about what either really actually knows. If jounalists or the people that they interview really knew something that was real not opinion we may be able to solve some problems.

    But then you can’t spend hours talking, debating what can be proven to be real. So let’s ignore what is actually real.

  • Rick

    Not only are the ratings for the time frame down from last year, ratings for shows are down from last year. Moving around time slots may have actually hurt them.
    I know to many people that have dropped cable subscription. They can get news and entertainment off the web just like these journalist do. That way they can read first hand information without someone elses opinion and deciding what is important and what is not.

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