CNN, MSNBC Plunge as Fox News' Ratings Surge

Monday, 29 Mar 2010 08:53 PM

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CNN continued its huge plunge in ratings for its prime-time programs in the first quarter of 2010 even as Fox News had its best period ever, The New York Times reports.

CNN's main hosts lost almost half their viewers in a year, according to ratings data assembled by the Times. In fact, the trend in news ratings for the first three months of this year was only up for Fox, while MSNBC continued its huge plunge, too.

In all, Larry King's audience dropped 43 percent for the quarter and 52 percent in March. Meanwhile, Anderson Cooper, who follow's King dropped 42 percent in viewers and 46 percent among the key 25-to-54-year-old audience.

By comparison, Fox News, which had its biggest year in 2009, continues to add viewers. Greta Van Susteren’s show was up 25 percent from a year earlier. Bill O’Reilly, whose show commands the biggest audience in prime time with 3.65 million viewers, was up 28 percent, and Glenn Beck was up 50 percent from a year earlier.

The plunge for CNN was consistent throughout the day. CNN's “American Morning” show dropped behind “Morning Joe” on MSNBC in total viewers for the first time; it still beat the MSNBC show among 25- to 54-year-olds, though it was down 29 percent from a year earlier, the Times reported.

The data backs up the comments of O’Reilly, who told Newsmax.TV in an exclusive interview that CNN is stuck to an old model while MSNBC has hired unpopular “guttersnipes” as hosts who drive viewers away in drives.

Editor's Note: See the exclusive Newsmax interview with Bill O'Reilly in its entirety here.

“CNN basically stayed where they were 10 years ago, they didn’t change with the times,” said O’Reilly, host of "The O’Reilly Factor."

“We live in a very intense country right now, a very difficult time. CNN doesn’t reflect that urgency.”

CNN merely reports the news, O’Reilly points out. They do it well, as evidenced by their Haiti coverage.

But Americans already know the news from the Internet and other sources.

“They want analysis and perspective from a cable network,” O’Reilly explained. “CNN doesn’t give you that.”

As for MSNBC, “They made the key mistake of hiring bad people. It’s as simple as that,” O’Reilly said.

How are they bad? “They have a bunch of guttersnipes on their network, that even if you’re a liberal, which is what they sell, you don’t like these people,” he said.

CNN's decline is all the more compelling because the last three months have included compelling news events, like the earthquake in Haiti and the battle over healthcare. CNN, which emphasizes its hard news coverage, was apparently unable to benefit, the Times reported.

CNN still easily beats MSNBC in the daytime hours, but those are less lucrative in advertising money, and both networks are far behind Fox News at all hours.)

Read the full New York Times story here

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