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CNN’s Numbers Game

In this afternoon’s conference call, announcing the hiring of Campbell Brown, CNN/U.S. President Jon Klein once again said CNN was posting its best ratings since the Gulf War adding, “our ratings are moving exactly in the right direction.” He made the same claim at the TCA press tour last week.

A closer examination of live ratings data from Nielsen shows that year-to-date CNN is averaging 172,000 viewers sign-on to sign-off in the 25-54 demo. In all of 2003 (the year the war started) CNN averaged 259,000 viewers in the demo. So, where’s the growth?

A CNN spokesperson explains: The numbers Klein is refering to are the 25-54 demo viewers, through the first half of 2007. In Q1 & Q2 “CNN is having its best delivieries since the (Iraq) war started.” When I asked what ‘deliveries’ meant, I was told that the kind of growth CNN has been experiencing over the last 6 months, has not been seen since the first half of 2003. I hope that clears it up.

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