The TV media is abuzz with stories of a possible news cooperation / combination between CNN and CBS. Some cooperation between the two has been rumored for awhile, and Time Warner (CNN’s parent) just signed up along with CBS to televise the NCAA Mens Basketball tournament for the next 14 years, so they’ve had some recent quality time around a conference table with their lawyers.

But why now?

Certainly the cost pressures on broadcast news are growing. ABC recently laid off a significant portion of its news staff. Plus, CBS has been mired in third place with its broadcast evening news telecast for years.

But what about CNN?

They’ve touted the fact that 2009 was their most profitable year ever. But their ratings have been on a slide for over a year and they’re often in fourth or fifth place in cable news primetime.

Perhaps CNN doesn’t see a solution to their ratings losses?

CNN has averaged just 664,000 viewers in primetime this year (12/28/09-5/3/10), and just 188,000 in the advertiser targeted adults 25-54 demo.

I don’t have the numbers to compare the partial 2010 numbers to partial years in the past, but CNN’s averages so far this year are lower than CNN’s full year primetime averages in any year since 1997, when it was first rated by Nielsen.

Perhaps CNN decided it was time to make a deal before they lost even *more* of their viewers?

Posted by:TV By The Numbers

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