While you weren’t looking, CNN has been busy demolishing the once-invincible ratings gap between themselves and Fox News. CNN beat Fox News decisively for their prime time lineup in April, and especially in the coveted age gap of 25-54. In fact, the only demographic in which Fox News beat CNN was the over 54 demographic, which is one of the least valuable to advertisers.
Neither was April a fluke. CNN has now beaten Fox News in prime time ratings for five out of the last 8 months. They have also scored wins in weekend ratings and are closing the gap in daytime ratings as well. Overall, where CNN used to have less than half of Fox News’ overall viewership, they now are behind Fox News by a measly 9%, and they continue to dominate MSNBC.
From CNN’s release:
CNN ranked #1 in cable news in prime time in April. CNN beat Fox News for the fifth time in the last eight months in M-Su prime time (four of the past eight in M-F prime) among adults 25-54. The last time CNN had this many prime time wins in an eight-month period versus Fox News was over 14 years ago (Nov. 2001). CNN also handily topped MSNBC this month in all dayparts, with CNN besting MSNBC for the 22nd straight month in Total Day (among both total viewers and among adults 25-54) and in prime time (among 25-54). In total viewers, CNN has now beaten MSNBC for the fifth straight month (or seven out of eight months) in prime time. CNN continued to top MSNBC by wide margins during the day (9am-4pm) – posting a +36% advantage in total viewers (630k vs. MSNBC’s 464k) and +58% more among adults 25-54 (161k vs. 102k).
In April, CNN had the most growth of any television network (cable or broadcast) among both total viewers and adults 25-54, increasing triple digits in prime time. Among ALL cable networks in April, CNN ranked #7 in total viewers in M-F prime time. In Total Day, CNN was also up vs. last year, increasing +59% in total viewers and +48% among adults 25-54.
Of particular note, CNN has narrowed the gap with Fox News (196k vs. Fox News’ 215k) to its smallest level (-9%) in over seven years (since October, 2008) in Today Day among adults 25-54. CNN beat Fox News in prime time this month among adults 25-54.
CNN is definitely not without its flaws. They cover Trump way too much, as even their own on-air personalities have been known to observe on-air. However, what’s interesting is that Fox News is clearly suffering the most in their prime time lineup. For the last 8 months, Fox’s prime time lineup has been anchored by a number of personalities (including Eric Bolling, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, and Greta) who have basically been running barely-disguised Trump infomercials.
The conventional wisdom on the right has been that this approach is the best way to build traffic. The experience of RedState – and now, on the other hand, of Fox News – suggests that this might not be so. You can get a temporary boost, but there’s a low ceiling, because Trump’s actual base of support is quite small (if rabid). In the meantime, you cost yourself (possibly permanently) some portion of your long-time audience.