City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP
City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

CNN prime-time ratings hit a 20-year low



In mid-May, CNN had its lowest-rated ratings week in primetime in 20 years.

An average of 395,000 viewers watched Piers Morgan and Anderson Cooper last week.  Just think: Kim Zolciak’s reality show attracted more than triple that number last Thursday.

As the knowledgeable Bill Carter of the New York Times noted: “CNN has seen its competitive position erode for several years without instituting significant changes in its overall approach. The network’s management has kept to its course of emphasizing news coverage and not the views of its prime-time personalities.”

According to the Huffington Post, CNN’s all-day numbers were the third worst since 1997.  And its April full month ratings were its worst in a decade. May doesn’t appear to be going any better.

CNN relies heavily on breaking news and there was very little in the way of big news last week.  A big natural disaster or O.J. Simpson-style  ruckus would help.

TVNewser just wrote an extensive analytical piece and notes that CNN in aggregate is doing fine financially. The digital side has a huge audience, and CNNI and HLN are doing relatively well. So all is not lost in CNN land. Media pundits, though, tend to focus on the “sexy” primetime numbers and that’s a weakness at the moment.

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By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk

22 comments Add your comment


May 23rd, 2012
3:52 pm

CNN is still around? Bring back CNN Headline News.


May 23rd, 2012
3:54 pm

No, the problem is that it’s loaded with far left liberals just like NBC, ABC, CBS, and especially MSNBC. I only tune in to CNN off and on during the day about 5 minutes at a time. Nighttime is totally out of the question, especially when it comes to politics. “Obama-praising” is what they love to do. The statement in this article “The network’s management has kept to its course of emphasizing news coverage and not the views of its prime-time personalities” is laughable, as that is the farthest thing from the truth. THAT is one of the main reasons their ratings stink.

Anderson Cooper 3-69

May 23rd, 2012
4:06 pm


MyPatootie Is a Talking Head Regurgitator - BlahBlahBlah

May 23rd, 2012
4:11 pm

Bring back Rick Sanchez.


May 23rd, 2012
5:07 pm

This is probably because the people that watch CNN don’t watch it 24/7 like the people that watch FOX or MSNBC.


May 23rd, 2012
5:08 pm

Wolf Blitzer!!!! Nuff said.

Allison Wonderland

May 23rd, 2012
5:14 pm

I am curious about the weather channel ratings since they dumped all the well known knowledgable weather people and brought in all these pretty people and started the reality shows. I havent watched them in months!!


May 23rd, 2012
5:47 pm

the Weather channel doesn’t do weather anymore, just like MTV not doing videos, both are irrelevant to me.

Mary James

May 23rd, 2012
6:28 pm

Regarding CNN Ratings. I am not surpriised at Piers Morgan as he seems to have a love affair with Obama. That is one of the reasons he is falling in the ratings. When he has a Republican on his show, you can see his bias. I love Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper. They are very fair, and Don Lemon on the weekend is very good.

Atlanta truth

May 23rd, 2012
6:32 pm

@mypatootie —— We see you listed all cable networks except the FAR RIGHT Nazi network Fox News ….. owned by a criminal enterprise News Corp. So transparent you are. Ratings do not equal the truth. CNN is exemplary in reporting the news. Yes, they have fluff and cable candy to compete with the other networks that do the same. That is the nature, unfortunately, of cable news today. The prime time lineup of Fox, MSNBC, etc. are so partisan propaganda it is laughable. Exaggerations, lies, and deceptions are the landmines that viewers must negotiate. Viewers get comfortable with the striking colors and graphics they see, the pretty faces and hairstyles they view, and the personalities that they identify with. The true content of news/politics/entertainment broadcasts are being mixed and shaken up for viewers with the only intention of getting ratings (i.e. $$$).


May 23rd, 2012
6:54 pm

Wasn’t it CNN who had the Dirty Sanchez ??


May 23rd, 2012
7:00 pm

Bring back Campbell Brown—very smart, superhot!!


May 23rd, 2012
7:59 pm

Too much news, not enough pompous partisan blowhards like MSNBC and Fox News.

chuckie c heese

May 24th, 2012
1:30 am

Piers Morgan is so full of Obama he needs a laxative to normalize. He slobbers all over his suit, tie, table and floor everytime someone says even a slightly negative word about obama.


May 24th, 2012
8:17 am

I’ll watch cnn when they start reporting the news instead of trying to make the news.


May 24th, 2012
9:58 am

Piers Morgan is horrible. It just shows that anyone with a British accent can come over and get serious work despite of their experience. I like Anderson Cooper, but his show can use a makeover. Who is this Erin Burnett chick? How can she come out of nowhere and get a daily show while you have people like Don Lemon and Fredricka Whitfield who has been at CNN for years who don’t even get a chance to get a daily show? Give Don or Fredricka a chance. Bring back Rick Sanchez. Get rid of Piers Morgan. CNN is a ship sinking slowly.

Vining Dawg

May 24th, 2012
11:25 am

@Atlanta Lair, You make me laugh, maybe you should be the host of CNN. It will then become the Comedy News Network and we will watch for laughs before watching the real news. You forget that the Nazis where Socialist Liberal Party that believed in censorship, one party, the State can do it all, one news outlet, no competition, central government and Total State Control. Wow sound more like the modern day Democratic Party, which is an oxymoron. A Democratic party that doesn’t believe in diversity of opinion but a Liberal Socialist point of view. Yes, rating doesn’t equal truth, hmmm that came out from the Nazis Propaganda. It is funny now you don’t want people to make money but how do you pay your bills and your mortgage on the $500K house you are living in. You are nothing but a closet liberal. Do as I say and not as I do.


May 24th, 2012
12:12 pm

I cannot stand CNN and I cannot stand Wolf Blitzer. CNN is weak when it comes to interviewing people, especially politicians. They let them go on air to make a false point (lie), yet the reporter never challenges them..”we’ll have to leave it there”..they are awful.


May 24th, 2012
3:13 pm

CNN get with the program! People are wise to the liberalism that is being forced down their throat every time they tune you in. Piers Morgan never again. Anderson Cooper I like. I have not heard Anderson be quite as biased as Piers so I can live with it. I mostly listen to FOX. I want fair and balanced. When CNN goes at least to the middle – I will tune in again.

richard whiskey

May 24th, 2012
5:44 pm

as the kimmer used to say communist news network,bunch of left leaning blowhards, and kimmer where are you at we miss you in atlanta


May 25th, 2012
5:27 am

The ratings are low because CNN isn’t dumbing down its programming to appeal to the lowest common denominator, the way Fox News does.


May 25th, 2012
11:06 am

Say what you will, but the numbers speak for themselves. The criticism regarding CNN’s liberal bias has been around for a long time. Certainly Wolf Blitzer and Piers Morgan only help to perpetuate that bias.

The liberal media simply cannot help themselves. They just don’t get it. People are not stupid. The media loses credibility when it continues to embrace political positions which, at the end of the day, are toxic to America’s future. I am anxious to see how CBS, NBC, ABC and CNN cover the November elections.