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.

  • Shawn

    Erin Burnett always came off as a bit of a dimwit on CNBC… I thought it would be exactly what CNN is looking for (“The Dow is up/down 100 points! Ohmigawd!”) but I guess not.

  • AppleStinx

    Bill Gorman made a witty comment not long ago, short and to the point, about CNN’s business model. I don’t remember how it was verbatim, have to look for it.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Robert Seidman

    @AppleStinx, might be hard to find but something along the lines of “Osama Bin Laden/Michael Jackson Dead is not a business model.”

    Everyone else, I’ve updated the post to include the following:

    Update: for some reason the data for Piers Morgan Tonight 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).

  • AppleStinx

    Thanks, Robert. That must be one of the most off-the-wall remarks I’ve read from Bill, one that sadly fits CNN to a T. :smile:

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Bill Gorman

    “Bill Gorman made a witty comment not long ago”

    Robert noted the comment, but that was a year ago, just after the Bin Laden death ratings bump that I wrote that. How time flies when you’re having fun!

  • RG-X

    CNN – stop claiming what you’re not anymore: “The Worlds News Leader” – that is now FOX NEWS

  • Markos

    @Robert, thanks for the Piers Morgan update. Larry King’s (and CNN’s in the 9pm slot) worst month ever was August 2010, when he averaged 545K in total viewers. Piers got lucky last year because of all the Arab revolutions, tsunamis and a few other breaking stories, but with breaking news gone this year, all of his weaknesses are now being reflected in the abysmal numbers, which are dangerously close to a new record low.
    But he’s just a byproduct of a dumbed down environment that can hardly be fixed. They should start building the network from the beginning. The good thing is that not a lot of people are watching so there actually is some space to really start all over again. There will always be criticism of bias from one side or another, but ultimately this country needs a network that will REPORT the news, not just TALK about it. And when I say news, I mean news that really matters, not the YouTube puppy videos.

  • Kevin Hall

    Leftist programing doesn’t sell!
    Unabashed support for Obama doesn’t sell!
    Liberalism is negative and people don’t want to watch it on tv.
    It’s very simple to understand.

  • Johnnie


    Why the heck would Glenn Beck, who left Fox when he was controlling his time slot, by a wide margin over these misfits, go to CNN? He left Fox so he could have a free hand and make a lot of money. His GBTV does what it wants and draws in millions of people who are willing to pay 9.95 a month to watch him on-line. CNN cn’t even get 750,000 people to watch their crap for free. Smarten up. You are backing a loser. The whole sister network thing with Al Jazeera sxhould tell you who CNN is and why they will lose to any pro-American institution. Hell, Soupy Sales could beat CNN and HLN if he was willing to be objective about Obama and the War on Terror.

    Wolf Blitzer, Piers Morgan and Erin Burnett should get used to losing. They are, after all. LOSERS.

  • Justin

    Good to see the free market in action! I used to be a very loyal CNN viewer with my TV rarely changed from their channel. A couple months ago I not only stopped watching CNN, but I also canceled my Time Warner cable and switched to a dish provider.

    CNN displays uncanny bias for their agenda. As a supporter of GOP candidate Dr. Ron Paul I find it disgusting how they assert their opinion on their viewers. I for one would not start watching them again unless there was some major change. Maybe they should take a look at Judge Napolitan from Fox Business.

  • a p garcia

    Great story-GO FOX News Channel. CNN is just tooooo liberal and is inline with CBS,ABC,NBC,& MSNBC News, and most print media.

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