CNN: Hard News, Good Ratings

by Reese Schonfeld

For the second week in a row, CNN benefits from hard news. Last week was even better than the week before, with CNN topping all the other news networks in all the demographic ratings.

In raw audience, FoxNews still has a lead, but CNN has risen to the top ten in both total day (9th) and primetime (10th). In the key demo, 25-54s, CNN had 24,000 more viewers than FoxNews. Over the total day, CNN had 46,000 more viewers than FoxNews.  In primetime, CNN also edged FoxNews in 18-49 year olds and did even better with 18-34 year olds. This was equally true of total day ratings. MSNBC finished a rather distant third in total viewing, and in the demographics.  

It’s exhilarating to conceive of what CNN could do if major events occurred every week. It has taken an earthquake, a tsunami, an atomic meltdown and a demi-war in Libya to get CNN as far as it has gotten. I don’t expect that to happen again soon, so I suggest that CNN go out and find hard news stories that others have neglected — there are plenty of them — and build on them to compete with FoxNews.

CNN has proven, once again, that it has people who can cover the news, rather than talk about it. I’d rather see Anderson Cooper out in the field than behind a desk. I’d rather not see Eliot Spitzer at all.

CNN was built on news intelligence. Back then, it had a full one-point rating, rather than the 0.4 it staggers around with these days. It’s good to see that last week it had a full rating point in households, and a point eight in total day.

It’s about time that CNN got back in the major leagues. I’m glad to see it happen, and I hope it lasts more than two weeks.