CNN’s prime-time ratings last week fell to their lowest level since Jeff Zucker took over as president of CNN Worldwide. Bogged down by the tedium of Obamacare-related coverage and commentary, the cable-news network averaged 385,000 total viewers and just 95,000 in the key demo of 25-54 for the week ended Nov. 1. The network hasn’t seen prime-time numbers this low since August 2012.
In contrast, MSNBC averaged 683,000 total viewers and 150,000 in the key demo, while the Fox News Channel averaged 2.4 million total viewers and 377,000 in the key demo, according to numbers from Nielsen. That would mean that demo viewership on Fox almost matched that of CNN’s entire prime-time audience for the week. Fox News as of late has been buoyed by a revamped prime-time lineup that includes “The Kelly File,” starring Megyn Kelly.
Admittedly, it was a slow news week, with network commentators droning on about Obamacare House hearings and website glitches. All the networks saw a boost on Friday, when news broke that a shooting spree had taken place at Los Angeles International Airport.
Zucker has made a multitude of changes at CNN since taking the reins in January. Ratings have seen overall improvement since the network hit a 20-year low in 2012, but substantial gains have been elusive outside of major news events. Moreover, Zucker's efforts like the “New Day” morning show and the reboot of “Crossfire” haven't yielded significant buzz, although they're netting bigger year-over-year audiences for CNN.
In September, a person familiar with CNN’s operations told International Business Times that the network is happy with “New Day’s” performance, citing strong viewership during its first three months compared to the same period last year. A more-quantifiable recent success is “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown,” the foodie travelogue that debuted in April, which is No. 1 in its Sunday time slot and has been garnering triple-digit year-over-year growth.
CNN is part of the Turner Broadcasting unit of Time Warner Inc. (NYSE:TWX), which reports third-quarter 2013 earnings on Wednesday morning. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expect the media giant to record lower profit on slightly higher revenue. Fox News is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox Inc. (Nasdaq:FOXA), which reports fiscal first-quarter 2014 results at 4 p.m. on Tuesday.