By Thomas Lifson
July 13, 2019
It couldn’t happen to a more deserving network (though MSNBC is a close second, but without the nauseating pretentiousness of the cable news pioneer that has gone from 100% market share to third place and falling). Brian Flood at Fox News:
CNN’s audience shriveled in the second quarter of 2019, averaging only 541,000 total viewers, less than half Fox News Channel’s 1.3 million average. But CNN struggled even more during the primetime hours of 8-11 p.m. ET, finishing as the fifteenth most-watched network on basic cable behind networks such as TLC, Investigation Discovery and the Hallmark Channel. CNN averaged a dismal 761,000 primetime viewers while FNC averaged 2.4 million.
The Hill media guru Joe Concha told Fox News that CNN’s freefall may not be slowing.
“The numbers warrant concern, yes. Q2 was a particularly news-rich quarter highlighted by the release of the Mueller report and all the aftermath and controversy following it, plus the launch of several high-profile Democratic candidacies including Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg to propel 2020 coverage into high gear,” Concha said. “It may only get worse in Q3 given the numbers we’re already seeing.”
CNN has a new owner: AT&T. For reasons unknown to me, they are sticking with Jeff Zucker as boss, and have even expanded his responsibilities.
Here is what any competent manager would worry about, though there is no indication that Zucker has any concern:
“You know the answer,” a longtime CNN employee said when asked if staffers are panicked about the ratings decay before declining further comment.
Another current CNN employee told Fox News that there is widespread concern about the network’s ratings problem, but high-profile hosts such as Anderson Cooper remain unfazed.
The brand-name hosts on the network, no matter how anemic their ratings, usually have contracts (negotiated by their agents or lawyers) that protect them. The lower-level staffers, who book the guests, apply the makeup, write the scripts, post the chyrons, and stock the green rooms with snacks, among myriad other tasks, are the ones who bear the brunt of layoffs — which makes them fearful and angry at their superiors who wear the makeup and get the camera time.
This can lead to embarrassing situations on air.