While FOX News continues to soar, CNN faces lowest ratings in 21 years

Published: Thursday, June 28 2012 6:59 p.m. MDT

Ratings data released Tuesday reveals that cable network CNN earned its lowest ratings in 21 years during the second quarter of 2012.

"CNN, the founder of the cable news genre, is now registering its lowest ratings since the first Gulf War," Dylan Byers wrote for Politico. "An average of 446,000 people now watch CNN’s primetime programming while a mere 319,000 watch its daytime programming — declines from 2011 that are at least twice as severe as those suffered at Fox News and MSNBC. … One former executive said CNN faces an 'identity crisis.'”

Washington Post media critic Lisa de Moraes detailed the year-to-year viewership numbers for CNN, Fox News and MSNBC: "CNN just finished … with a primetime average audience of 446,000 viewers — down 35 percent compared to the second quarter of 2011. For (the sake of comparison), MSNBC averaged just shy of 690,000 viewers — a 13 percent decline. Fox News Channel averaged a healthy 1.79 million viewers, though even that’s down one percent, year-to-year."

Writing for the New York Times' Media Decoder blog, Bill Carter suggested a potential explanation regarding why CNN's ratings are falling so much faster than those of Fox News and MSNBC.

"The litany of 'worst evers' is growing at CNN, which has yet to find an answer to what to do when news is light," Carter wrote. "The network still steers clear of the opinion-oriented programs that bring regular streams of viewers to hosts like Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity on Fox and Rachel Maddow on MSNBC."

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