CNN Actions Show it is in the Ideology Rather than Ratings Game

By Kevin Price, Publisher and Editor in Chief, USDR.

Being in media, I like to check out our industry’s rags.  Today, I have done something I have done for many years, seen a story that should be a broken record to any competitor of the Fox News Network.  Here’s the article and its headline from TV Newser, which is a newsletter of Mediabistro:

Q2 2013 Ratings: Fox News #1 for 11 1/2 Years

“Fox News Channel has just finished the second quarter of 2103 as the #1 cable news network for 46 straight quarters. But while boasting 9 of the top 10 shows on cable news among younger viewers, FNC had its lowest weekday primetime performance in the A25-54 demo, in more than 12 years. Which may be why the network is planning changes to primetime.

The ratings for Q2 2013, (Nielsen Live + Same Day data):

  • Primetime (Mon-Sun): 1,889,000 Total Viewers / 317,000 A25-54
  • Total Day Mon-Sun): 1,179,000 Total Viewers / 238,000 A25-54

In primetime, total viewership grew +5%, but the network lost -11% of the younger viewer audience it had drawn at the same point in 2012.”

You would think that after a decade of getting its derriere handed to it by Fox News it would consider doing something about it.  CNN is in a very unique and potentially powerful position of owning more than one cable news network.  CNN is the more famous of the two, but it also owns an ugly little “mini me” called Headline News.

Both channels are CNN properties, but instead of behaving like a competitive media company by offering two similar (both news) products with very differences emphasis (such as editorial focus), it created redundant stations, that only take audience from one another. When it was originally launched two years after its parent company, CNN was created in 1980, the network was called “CNN 2.”  It is too bad it changed its name because that was an apt and more honest description of the channel – a weak, mirrored image of CNN.  Today, it is still that, offering program that would essentially be an annex of CNN’s, with little originality.  CNN’s viewers would naturally be torn between the major network, or its little brother. Does it not make sense that a company in the rating business would want to draw numbers away from its actual competitors?  The biggest of those (and the starkest in contrast form an editorial perspective) is Fox News, which consistently gets hundreds of thousands of more viewers than CNN during those crucial primetime hours.  Currently, HLN and CNN are consistently second or third to Fox News, but combined they would often beat the Murdoch led giant.  How would they combine them? By changing HLN into a conservative news network and giving its viewers a true choice in its viewing.  Sure some (though not many) would be offended and move to MSNBC, but the many more from both HLN and CNN going to one would make it a far more formidable player in cable news and give Fox a run for its money.  Meanwhile, the growing conservative audience that finds itself continuously disgruntled by the lack of major media options would have another channel (yes, one other channel) for its information and news.  This is a no-brainer for CNN from a business perspective.

Yet, CNN has known it has suffered from the this division of audience since the early 80s when Headline News was launched.  Even the most casual observer has no choice but to conclude that the Cable News Network is not driven by ratings, as its stockholders and the news viewing audience would hope, but by an ideological agenda that has kept the network a distant second.  It would be great if someone with actual business experience took over the helm of CNN and its sister network, Headline News.

All opinions expressed on USDR are those of the author and not necessarily those of US Daily Review.

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