Before you start defending CNN as your go-to channel during debates, election nights, and catastrophic disasters, just know that you're part of the problem. As The New York Times Brian Stelter reports, "people tune in to CNN, the same way they hurry to a hospital when they think they are having a heart attack. But people tend not to linger in either place — a reality that was reaffirmed for CNN this week when Nielsen ratings showed that April was the channel’s lowest-rated month in 10 years." The Wall Street Journal's Keach Hagey has the numbers and notes the problem areas for CNN:
The fundamental problem is in prime time. In the year ending in March, Fox News had an average of 1,890,000 total viewers and 428,000 viewers in the 25-54 demographic during prime-time, while MSNBC had 784,000 total viewers and 241,000 viewers in the 25-54 demographic. CNN had an average of 711,000 total viewers and 234,000 viewers in the 25-54 demographic in prime time.
For the journalists who produce CNN's news, bad ratings are especially bad news: layoffs haven't been uncommon to CNN lately, in fact, this past March they laid off dozens in the documentary unit.
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“They were first in, and established the genre,” one cable news exec told Stelter. “But they got too comfortable. They just made so much money that they didn’t have to change.” According to another, "CNN appears committed to a business model that doesn’t work."
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And what's the boss have to say about the bad ratings and naysayers? "I've been here for a long time. And I enjoy what I do, and I compete and I plan to keep doing it for a while," Jim Walton, CNN President, told Hagey. That doesn't really sound like a solution. Maybe they need to try more hologram?