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March & Q1 2012: CNN Loses Half its Audience

CNN bore the brunt of the downward trend the news networks experienced this month and for much of the first quarter, when compared to the busy first few months of 2011. For the month of March, CNN was down -50% in total viewers and down -60% in A25-54 viewers (Total Day). The net was down -21% in Total Viewers and down -26% in A25-54 viewers (Primetime) compared to March 2011. Last March saw the earthquake and tsunami in Japan as well as the beginning of the allied campaign in Libya.

The ratings for March, 2012:

  • Primetime (Mon-Sun): 599K Total Viewers / 189K A25-54
  • Total Day (Mon-Sun): 382K Total Viewers / 117K A25-54

Compared to Q1 2011, CNN was down -21% in total viewers and down -26% in A25-54 viewers for Total Day viewing and down -5% in both Total Viewers and A25-54 viewers in Primetime. CNN did see slight growth in Primetime (Mon-Fri) due to three GOP debates it carried, topping MSNBC in the demo (Mon-Fri and Mon-Sun).

The ratings for Q1, 2012:

  • Primetime (Mon-Sun): 761K Total Viewers / 256K A25-54
  • Total Day (Mon-Sun): 435K Total Viewers / 140K A25-54

Every CNN program from 6AM to Midnight is down double digits in both Total Viewers and A25-54 viewers. Quarter-to-quarter, “John King USA” is down -41% while “Piers Morgan Tonight” is -40% in the A25-54 demo. Morgan, however, is up +11% vs. Q4 ’11.

CNN’s new morning shows are severely under-performing with the time period having its worst quarter in more than 10 years, since Q2 2001. The 6-9amET hours, the final hour of “Early Start” and two hours of “Starting Point,” are down -32% in Total Viewers and down -39% in A25-54 viewers vs. Q1 2011.

CNN TOPS MSNBC IN PRIMETIME BY DOUBLE DIGITS DURING FIRST QUARTER 2012

AC 360 TOPS MSNBC’S LAST WORD AT 10PM FOR THE QUARTER

CNN Sees Solid Gains Compared to Last Quarter

First Quarter 2012 Highlights:
CNN tops MSNBC in M-F and M-Su primetime in the key demo for the first quarter 2012
AC 360 at 10pm tops MSNBC’s Last Word in the target demo 25-54
CNN tops MSNBC throughout dayside (9am-5pm)
CNN sees gains compared to last quarter (Q4 2011) — all of the cable news networks are down compared to the first quarter a year ago due to extensive coverage of the Japan earthquake/tsunami and Arab Spring

For the first quarter 2012, CNN topped MSNBC in Monday-Friday primetime (8-11pm) by double digits (+11%) in the key demographic 25-54 (276k vs. 248k). This represents the first quarterly win over MSNBC in M-F prime in a year (since Q1 2011). CNN also bested MSNBC in M-Su primetime this quarter in the key demo (256k vs. 237k).

Anderson Cooper 360 continued to show a strong ratings performance, topping MSNBC’s Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell at 10pm in the key demo (254k vs. 219k).

During dayside programming (9am-5pm), CNN had a +28% advantage over MSNBC in the key demo 25-54 (120k vs. 94k) and outperformed MSNBC in total viewers (456k vs. 405k).

All the cable news networks were down compared to the first quarter a year ago (Q1 2011) due to extensive coverage of the Japan earthquake/tsunami and the Arab Spring. However, compared to the fourth quarter 2011 CNN showed solid gains:

M-F prime – CNN grew +33% in the demo (276k vs. 207k) and +22% in total viewers (827k vs. 677k)
Total Day – CNN grew +14% in the demo (140k vs. 123k) and +8% in total viewers (435k vs. 404k)
Piers Morgan Tonight grew +11% in key demo (182k vs. 164k)
AC 360 at 10pm grew +19% in demo (254k vs. 213k)`
Erin Burnett Outfront at 11pm grew +5% in demo (147k vs. 140k).

CNN reached an average monthly cumulative audience of 91 million viewers during the first quarter 2012, FNC followed with 77 million and MSNBC had 74 million.

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