Right Hooks

The Trump Effect on Network Ratings

CNN is quickly gaining on frontrunner Fox News.

Political Editors · May 3, 2016

The question as to the whether the peculiar relationship Fox News has with Donald Trump has affected network viewership is becoming clear in the ratings after months of primary election coverage. This combined with some major overhauls at CNN means Fox is on the cusp of losing its years-long stronghold on news and reporting. According to The Wall Street Journal:

Since the start of the year, when the primary season began in earnest, CNN’s prime-time audience has more than doubled to 435,000 viewers a night in its target demographic of 25- to 54-year-olds, according to Nielsen. After years of weak ratings, the network is nipping at the heels of Fox News, the longtime ratings leader in cable news, whose prime-time audience has grown 42% to 450,000 viewers, and is roughly doubling the audience of MSNBC, the weakest of the three major cable news channels. which is up 73% at 225,000.

Furthermore, CNN reports that it “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).” Even more amazingly, CNN president Jeff Zucker conjured up the courage to make this eyebrow-raising concession: “I think it was a legitimate criticism of CNN that it was a little too liberal.” That’s an understatement of the millennium, and it goes without saying that any network without pinheads like Piers Morgan and Candy Crowley is automatically better. Still, his candid admission helps explain the network’s recent success.

Zucker added, “We have added many more middle-of-the-road conservative voices to an already strong stable of liberal voices. And I think that we are a much more-balanced network and, as a result, a much more inviting network to a segment of the audience that might not have otherwise been willing to come here.” One need not look any further than Nielsen ratings for proof the strategy is working. Trump’s following is not exactly on good terms with Fox News, despite the regular presence of sycophants like Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter, which gives CNN a good opportunity to recruit additional viewers. CBS CEO Leslie Moonves said recently of Trump’s candidacy, “He may not be good for America, but he’s damn good for CBS.” Not for Fox though!

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