The cable news network saw sharp declines in numbers when wall-to-wall coverage subsided
CNN’s ratings were cut nearly in half when the Malaysian plane disappearance became old news.
From March 8 — when the news broke — through March 21, CNN was essentially wall-to-wall missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 coverage. The network reaped the benefit of the public’s insatiable interest ratings-wise, averaging 770,000 viewers in primetime and 286,000 in the key 25-54 demographic, according to Nielsen Media Research.
From April 21 through May 2, however, the cable news network was not able to sustain those elevated numbers. CNN’s average viewership over that time period was 427,000 and 157,000, respectively — marking a decline of 45 percent in both measurements.
To be fair, CNN was not the only cable news channel to slide when one of the biggest stories of the year became somewhat stale — both Fox News and MSNBC ticked down as well. However, their ratings dips were far more modest.
Fox News fell 13 percent overall, 15 percent in the demo. MSNBC ticked down three percent in total viewers and nine percent in the demo.
While Fox has maintained its position as top dog throughout the periods analyzed, CNN was able to overtake MSNBC during its non-stop plane coverage in early-to-mid March. But since then, MSNBC has settled back into second place during the 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. hours, with CNN returning to third.
Across all of cable last week in primetime, Fox News ranked fourth, MSNBC was No. 26 and CNN ranked No. 33.