Continuing plunge of CNN, MSNBC ratings reveals that fake news is a bad business strategy

The catastrophic ratings decline for both CNN and MSNBC was no temporary blip following publication of the Mueller report. Both cable news outlets had heavily promoted the hoax of Russian collusion with the Trump administration, teasing the hopes of Trump-haters for impeachment and prosecution for treason. Now, those disappointed viewers have gone away, and continue to stay away.

Fake (“replica”) CNN Newsroom at CNN Center in Atlanta (Photo credit: Doug Waldron)

TV Newser (free registration required) reveals the continuing loss of a substantial portion of the viewership for both cable news networks in the third week of May:

CNN experienced its lowest-rated week since November 2015 in the 25-54 demo. Additionally, MSNBC marked its lowest-rated prime time week of the year in the demo. Rachel Maddow delivered her lowest-rated week of the year in both total viewers and the 25-54 demo.

The most dramatic decline was in the prized demo, age 25 – 54, with MSNBC down 42% and CNN down 43%. Advertisers are getting barely more than half as many potential consumers watching their ads in both cable news outlets.

To be fair, last year was an election year, and Fox News also experienced a decline of 22%, but that is roughly half the decline of the two progressive outlets.

Fox News lost the crown of the most-viewed cable channel to ESPN, which benefitted from the NBA playoffs.

Overall cable channels rankings:


  1. ESPN (2,720,000)
  2. Fox News Channel (2,333,000)
  3. TNT (2,123,000)
  4. MSNBC (1,487,000)
  5. HGTV (1,160,000)
  6. NBC Sports Network (1,133,000)
  7. USA (1,076,000)
  8. TBS (934,000)
  9. Hallmark Channel (893,000)
  10. History (893,000)

TOTAL DAY (6a – 6a)

  1. Fox News (1,313,000)
  2. ESPN (887,000)
  3. MSNBC (848,000)
  4. TNT (799,000)
  5. HGTV (665,000)
  6. Investigation Discovery (641,000)
  7. Nickelodeon (638,000)
  8. USA (536,000)
  9. CNN (520,000)
  10. History (507,000)

John Nolte of Breitbart points out that the unmasking of the Russia Hoax is only the latest example of fake news purveyed by both progressive cable networks (as well as most of the MSM). He lists the fake news frauds of recent memory:

  • George Zimmerman: White Racist Killer
  • Hands Up, Don’t Shoot
  • Trump Can’t Win
  • Brett Kavanaugh: Serial Rapist
  • The KKKids from KKKovington High School
  • Trump Colluded with Russia

To that list must be added the incredible on-air promotion of Michael Avenatti, just indicted for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from his client Stormy Daniels, adding to his existing indictments in New York and Los Angeles for attempting to shake down Nike.

Both CNN and MSNBC are subsidiaries of large publicly-held corporations, AT&T and Comcast, respectively. It is time for the grown-ups at the corporate level to recognize that each of their subsidiaries have adopted a losing business strategy of focusing on left-wing propaganda, a declining market niche. Shareholders need to demand that existing management be replaced at both cable news operations. They have squandered their credibility and need to provide former viewers with visible evidence that they have learned their lessons.

The move of CNN’s New York operations from Columbus Circle to Hudson Yards has already been used as an excuse to lay off more than a hundred staffers, a typical move of companies in decline. But that cost-saving measure will not persuade former viewers to return, much less add new viewers. Firing Jeff Zucker, head of CNN who was promoted by AT&T and given broader responsibilities, would be a visible sign that corporate understands the need to change and to win back lost viewers.

Hat tip: Roger Luchs

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