From Fox News: CNN is suffering a credibility crisis as viewership for the once-proud network continues to crater with no apparent plan in place to fix things anytime soon, according to media watchdogs and insiders.
CNN’s audience shriveled in the second quarter of 2019, averaging only 541,000 total viewers, less than half Fox News Channel’s 1.3 million average. But CNN struggled even more during the primetime hours of 8-11 p.m. ET, finishing as the fifteenth most-watched network on basic cable behind networks such as TLC, Investigation Discovery and the Hallmark Channel. CNN averaged a dismal 761,000 primetime viewers while FNC averaged 2.4 million.
The Hill media guru Joe Concha told Fox News that CNN’s freefall may not be slowing.
“The numbers warrant concern, yes. Q2 was a particularly news-rich quarter highlighted by the release of the Mueller report and all the aftermath and controversy following it, plus the launch of several high-profile Democratic candidacies including Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg to propel 2020 coverage into high gear,” Concha said. “It may only get worse in Q3 given the numbers we’re already seeing.”
CNN did not immediately respond when asked for comment.
CNN started off the third quarter with “the network’s lowest average since 2015” when it comes to primetime viewers among the key demographic of adults age 25-54, according to TVNewser. But the network has extended various contributors through the election, indicating that its apparent anti-Trump programming strategy will remain in place for at least the duration of the president’s first term.
“You know the answer,” a longtime CNN employee said when asked if staffers are panicked about the ratings decay before declining further comment.
Another current CNN employee told Fox News that there is widespread concern about the network’s ratings problem, but high-profile hosts such as Anderson Cooper remain unfazed.
“The people that are concerned – it’s certainly not the anchors who have lucrative contracts – it’s the people among the lower levels, such as producers and show bookers,” the employee said.
A third current staffer told Fox News that CNN “is clearly doing something wrong if the ratings are like this,” before asking, “So why don’t we try something different?”
Cable news viewership has declined in general as more and more consumers cut the cord in favor of OTT streaming services, but CNN’s losses are overwhelming. The network lost 18 percent of its audience compared to the second quarter of last year. CNN also dropped a whopping 38 percent of primetime viewers among the key demo.
“Losing nearly 40 percent of an already third-place audience must be a primary topic in internal meetings, with immediate remedies not readily apparent,” Concha said.
CNN’s most popular show, “Cuomo Prime Time,” averaged only 910,000 viewers. Fourteen Fox News programs and 10 MSNBC programs attracted larger audiences. Chris Cuomo and Anderson Cooper are part of CNN’s struggling primetime lineup that lost 38% of its audience in the key demo during the second quarter of 2019.
Reporter-turned-banker Porter Bibb is surprised parent company AT&T hasn’t made any changes. “My guess is that senior management is more concerned about the launch of HBO Max than CNN, at least for the moment,” he said.
Sagging ratings weren’t the only negative headlines generated by CNN during the second quarter, as the network reduced its headcount days after publically declaring there wouldn’t be mass layoffs.
A CNN spokesperson told Fox News on May 7 that reports of looming layoffs were a “crazy rumor,” but staffers were shocked when members of the network’s Atlanta-based staff who covered health care were shown the door only two weeks later.
CNN also saw over 100 employees accept a voluntary buyout option, losing bureau chiefs and award winners in the process while the network moved into elaborate new New York City digs.
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