CNN Has Lowest Primetime Viewership In 20+ Years In May

Categories: Cable News Ratings

Written By

May 30th, 2012

The bad ratings news for CNN keeps rolling in.

May 2012* was CNN’s lowest month in primetime for total viewers in over 20 years (since October 1991).  It was also CNN’s second lowest-rated month in over 20 years in the news target adults 25-54 demographic.

The hour by hour ratings situation was also grim. CNN’s 9pm show,  Piers Morgan Tonight, delivered CNN's lowest-rated hour in more than 20 years in both P2+ and in A25-54. Erin Burnett OutFront drew CNN's worst adults 25-54 demo in the 7pm timeslot in over 20 years.

Compared to May, 2011,  CNN lost more than half of its audience in both primetime and total day in both total viewers and in the adults 25-54 demographic.  The majority of CNN’s programs lost more than half of their viewership compared to the same time period last month.

Here are the numbers that tell the tale of ratings woe:


  • CNN: 288,000 total viewers – down 52%; (84,000 in 25-54 – down 61%)


  • CNN: 389,000 total viewers – down 51%; (114,000 in 25-54 – down 57%)

CNN’s Major Lows this Month:

  • Primetime: lowest in 20 years in total viewers; second lowest prime in over 20 years in 25-54 (since Oct. 1991)
  • 9PM: Piers delivered the lowest 9pm timeslot for CNN in over 20 years in both total viewers and 25-54
  • 7PM: Erin Burnett delivered the lowest 25-54 demo in the timeslot in over 20 years; second lowest in total viewers

Key CNN program declines May, 2012 vs. May, 2011:


  • Anderson Cooper 360 at 8PM: 388,000 viewers – down 38%; 116,000 in A25-54 – down 41%
  • Piers Morgan at 9PM: 417,000 viewers – down 49%; 117,000 in A25-54 – down 53%
  • Anderson Cooper 360 at 10PM: 420,000 – down 59%; 147,000 in 25-54 – down 62%


  • Erin Burnett at 7PM: 307,000 viewers – down 54%; 87,000 in A25-54 – down 64%
  • John King USA at 6PM: 338,000 viewers – down 55%; 79,000 in A25-54 – down 67%
  • Situation Room with Blitzer at 5PM: 431,000 viewers – down 46%; 90,000 in A25-54 – down 62%
  • Starting Point 7-9AM: 211,000 viewers – down 51%; 73,000 in A25-54 – down 58%


*which for ratings purposes ended 5/28/12
Nielsen TV Ratings: ©2012 The Nielsen Company. All Rights Reserved.

  • Steve

    Tony you hit the nail on the coffin. People are tired of Soledad O’Brien’s Latino/Black specials. Erin Burnett is a fish out of water. She should have remained on CNBC. Bring back Gov Spitzer for the 7:00 pm slot whether you agreed with him or not his topics were very engaging when he was the sole host.

  • Mike A-P

    For years CNN was an honest news channel trusted throughout the world, today that has all changed. It is now a heavily left leaning prejudiced political TV channel withering on the vine.

    When is the media going to understand that a large majority of Americans are sick and tired of corrupt politicians, lobbyist judges, biased media and do not approve of homosexuality. We want our country to return to the virtues and values America was respected for worldwide and to stick our nose out of other peoples business!

  • DEE

    How do they keep their jobs??
    MANAGEMENT should be out.. with theses numbers..
    Maybe the left slant they have.. should be more right middle

  • Network Journalist

    Actually it’s not about being biased, clearly FNC and MSNBC are very bias and look, their base is backing them up. CNN had really good talent, Heidi Collins, Tony Harris, Kera Phillips, Rick Sanchez, then they were dropped. People lost interest and the programming just sucks. What made CNN so interesting to watch was the talent, the iconic open newsroom set and credabilty.

  • Natalie

    CNN should hire Oprah.

  • Kalman

    I guess, people got tired of seeing only war, clash, conflict relating reports. and even no real program to discuss on the current financial and social crisis we live.

  • Trey

    * Charge you’re ways or fail! Fox will continue to whip y’all day after day.

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