While his competitors believed “the more opinionated the better,” [CNN/U.S. President Jon] Klein said he had a different strategy: “If we concentrate on really being the best news network in the world, we’ll continue to do well and grow and do even better.”
But a year after a record 13.3 million people tuned in for CNN’s election night coverage, the network has lost much of the gains it made during the political boom time. CNN has drawn an average of 932,000 viewers in prime time this year, down 25% compared with the same point last year, according to Nielsen.
“We are not going to try to boost numbers during fallow news periods by running cartoons, as our competitors do,” Klein told the LA Times. “We’re going to cover the news and we’ll attract an ever more loyal audience as the result of it.”
Gold points out that, with Lou Dobbs in the line-up and Campbell Brown providing editorials, CNN programming is not opinion-free. MSNBC President Phil Griffin responded, saying “If they’re going to carry this so-called flag of news, why don’t they do it? They’ve got one foot in and one foot out, and I think that’s why they’re struggling.”
Gold also adds that “prime time makes up just 10% of the revenue of CNN Worldwide,” which CNN execs noted.