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2012 Ratings: CNN Down for the Year, But Finishes 2012 With Strong Q4

CNN had a rough 2012 in the ratings, and was either down or flat in both total and demo viewers in both primetime and total day. The Presidential election provided a boost at the end of the year however, giving the network strong year-end ratings.

The ratings for 2012:

  • Primetime (Mon-Sun): 677,000 Total Viewers / 222,000 A25-54
  • Total Day (Mon-Sun): 415,000 Total Viewers / 134,000 A25-54

In primetime, the network was down -2% in Total Viewers and flat in A25-54 viewers compared to last year, which saw the Arab Spring uprising, the Japanese tsunami and the death of Osama Bin Laden. Despite the big news events of 2012 — political primaries, debates, violence in Syria and the Presidential election, CNN still saw declines this year. In Total Day, CNN was down -13% in Total Viewers and -17% in the A25-54 demographic. CNN was up for the year +5% in M-F primetime.

Piers Morgan Tonight” leads the network in Total Viewers (590,000) and the 10pmET hour of “Anderson Cooper 360″ leads the network in A25-54 viewers (198,000) for 2012. Compared to last year, Morgan’s program is down -19% in Total Viewers and -22% in the demographic, while the 10pmET hour of Cooper’s program is down -27% and -29%, respectively.

CNN’s morning shows, which were retooled and launched at the beginning of the year, were also down in 2012. Both “Early Start” and “Starting Point” were down double digits in both ratings measurements compared to last year. The network’s daytime programming is also struggling, delivering all-time lows in the 12pm-3pmET hours of “CNN Newsroom.”

But the Presidential election was a bright spot for the network: in the fourth quarter of 2012, every CNN program was up in both Total Viewers and the A25-54 demographic compared to the year-ago quarter. Gains were particularly strong in primetime, where the network had its best quarter since Q1 2009: “Erin Burnett OutFront” was up +23% in Total Viewers and +42% in the demographic, “AC 360″ was up +23% in Total Viewers and +28% in the demo, and “Piers Morgan Tonight” was up +18% and +27%, respectively.

CNN also had a very strong December, up +16% in Total Viewers and +31% in A25-54 viewers in Total Day and up +26% and +32% respectively in primetime.

More from CNN in their release:

CNN RATINGS HIGHLIGHTS:

Fourth Quarter 2012

  • CNN HAD ITS BEST QUARTERLY PRIME TIME DELIVERY SINCE Q1 ‘09 (Obama Inauguration)
    • In both M-F and M-Su Prime, CNN registered it best total viewer delivery since Q3-09 and its best in the demo since Q1-09;
  • CNN HAD ITS BEST QUARTERLY TOTAL DAY DELIVERY SINCE Q1 ’11 (Japanese Tsunami);
    • In total day, Q4-12 is the network’s best since Q1-11 among both total viewers and in demo 25-54. 
  • CNN had significant growth compared to year ago (4Q 2011); up double digits in total day and in primetime versus last year;
  • Erin Burnett Outfront registered its best quarterly deliveries since launch (Q4-11) among both total viewers and key demo 25-54;
  • AC 360 at 8 pm is the highest rated show on the network in the key demo 25-54 (229k); AC 360 at 8p posted its best delivery in both demos since taking over the 8p hour (Q3-11), giving the network its best performance in the hour since Q3-09 among total viewers and Q1-09 among 25-54;
  • Piers Morgan Tonight at 9 pm is the highest rated show on the network among total viewers (717k); Piers Morgan Tonight experienced its best total viewer delivery since its launch quarter of Q1-11 and its best in the demo since Q3-11.

Total Day:  Up +30% in total viewers (525k vs. 404k) and +50% in the key demo 25-54 (184k vs. 123k)

Prime Time (M-F):  Up +50% in total viewers (1.016m vs. 677k) and +80% in the target demo 25-54 (372k vs. 207k)

Day Time (M-F): Up +6% in total viewers (544k vs. 511k) and up +25% in key demo (169k vs. 135k)

6pm – The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer:  Up +31% in total viewers (661k vs. 505k) and +75% in key demo 25-54 (214k vs. 122k)

7pm – Erin Burnett Outfront:  Up +23% in total viewers (604k vs. 490k) and +42% among 25-54 (195k vs. 137k)

8pm – AC 360:  Up +23% (711k vs. 578k) and +28% among 25-54 (229k vs. 179k)

9pm – Piers Morgan Tonight:  Up +18% in total viewers (717k vs. 609k) and +27% among adults 25-54 (209k vs. 164k)

December 2012

  • CNN also had a strong December, growing double digits in key dayparts compared to last year;
  • In Monday-Sunday primetime, CNN grew the most vs. year ago. FNC had double digit ratings loss;
  • For the month, AC at 8 pm is the highest rated show on the network in the key demo (202k), while Piers Morgan Tonight is the highest in total viewers (671k).

Total Day:  Up +16% in total viewers (456k vs. 392k) and +31% in the demo 25-54 (153k vs. 117k)

Prime Time (M-Su):  Up +26% in total viewers (656k vs. 519k) and +32% in key demo (203k vs. 154k)  (FNC down -17% in total viewers and -36% in demo in M-Su primetime in December)

6pm – The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer:  Up +5% in total viewers (557k vs. 529k) and +38% in the target demo (172k vs. 125k)

7pm – Erin Burnett Outfront:  Up +16% in total viewers (543k vs. 468k) and +36% among key demo 25-54 (169k vs. 124k)

8pm – AC 360:  Up +21% in total viewers (667k vs. 553k) and +20% in demo (202k vs. 168k)

9pm – Piers Morgan Tonight:  Up +12% in total viewers (671k vs. 601k) and +19% in the key demo (185k vs. 155k)

Year End/2012

CNN ends the year with a +5% gain in M-F primetime in the key demo (251k vs. 238k) – while FNC is flat.  Piers Morgan Tonight ends the year as the top rated show on CNN in total viewers (590k)

with AC 360 at 10pm the highest rated in the key demo 25-54 (198k).

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