Veteran TV Writer Has a Theory About CNN’s Dwindling Ratings — Is It All About One Major Political Issue?

Nov 5, 2013  •  Post A Comment

CNN’s ratings fell last week to the cable news channel’s lowest weekly number since August 2012, a decline that may be tied to its coverage of the Affordable Care Act, writes veteran TV writer Bill Carter in The New York Times.

"Did that mean people didn’t want to hear wall-to-wall coverage of the failure of the site?" Carter asks. "Maybe not, if they were viewers already committed to one of the partisan corners: Both Fox News and MSNBC did far better last week, with heavy coverage of issues related to the health care law.

"But CNN, which led most of its news hours last week with reporting related to the site’s inadequacies, drew little interest from viewers, even on the day that Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of Health and Human Services, testified in Congress and took many hostile questions from Republican representatives."

Fox News Channel’s audience appears to be more interested in the story of the troubled rollout of the health-care exchange, with FNC drawing 2.4 million viewers overall last week. By comparison, CNN drew only 385,000 viewers during the same period. MSNBC averaged 683,000 total viewers.

The problem could also be related to programming choices, notes the Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker. Jeff Zucker, who was tapped to turn around CNN a year ago, "has tried to shake up CNN by, among other things, bringing back ‘Crossfire’ and offering a show to travel personality Anthony Bourdain," the publication reports. "But the moves don’t seem to be working."

Thumbnail image for jeffzucker.jpgJeff Zucker


  1. Is this the same Jeff Zucker that destroyed NBC with shows like Father of the Pride and Joey; and the Tonight show fiasco with Leno and Conan? The same one that took NBC from the #1 Broadcast Network to #4? Whatever caused CNN to hire him?

  2. I really don’t know why nobody gets this, and why it wasn’t fixed within a year.
    CNN was quite popular when it was the Cable News Network, doing good, hard, NEWS. Now that it’s not, it’s unpopular.
    Easy answer. Easy solution. Fix it soon, before Al Jazeera America changes their name and image, or be relegated to history.

  3. I have to admit that I was more than excited when hearing the news that CNN hired Jeff Zucker, However, now not so much. What does one say other than “there is no ‘there’ there.”
    Is this another prime example of people being hired to continually fail upwards? His poaching of ABC New’s talent was a brilliant master stroke which of course has not garnered any viewer interest.
    Most of the folks are news stars in their own right, but I wonder if these are more second string talent (back-ups) attempting to front shows of their own in a completely different scenario?
    Jake Tapper, Chris Cuomo, Bill Weir, all terrific in their own right but have not found their voice on CNN just yet.
    Why not play with the format and go back to a local news-type feel that tells both sides of the story. Move Blitzer to an evening slot and give Anderson Cooper his venue. Anderson Cooper’s ratings have plummeted with this new schedule. In Chess, does one not have to save their queen?

  4. Jeff Zucker is the ideal leader for the current era. His is a perfect track of “failing up.” So he’s just like our current political leaders.

  5. A lot of the dwindling ratings is the switch over to internet TV and CNN does not allow their channel to be streamed.
    Get ready for a war as the cable and satellite companies try to block competing streaming television.

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