CNN, Preparing for Poor Ratings Month, Gets 2009 Report Out Early

By kevin Comment

Just last week CNN did something it had never done — finishing in fourth place among Total Viewers in primetime (8-11pmET). In fact, for much of the last several months, the network has been criticized for its sagging ratings in primetime — especially among the ad-friendly A25-54 demographic, including recently marking the 100th time this year the network finished in fourth place in the primetime demo.

But when 2009 is said and done, CNN’s overall averages are not as grim.

Roughly two weeks before the official end of the ratings year, CNN is touting that, in fact, if you exclude the massive 2008 election year numbers, 2009 was the best year of the last five years in Total Viewers and the A25-54 demo in both primetime (Mon-Fri) and total day (Mon-Sun).

Ratings won’t be final for the year until Dec. 27. We’ll get the official numbers on Dec. 29 and bring you the monthly and yearly tallies for all networks then. But in their press release today, CNN says it has averaged 1.02 million Total Viewers in primetime (298,000 in the demo) and 613,000 Total Viewers in total day (185,000 in the demo.)

The release also takes a jab at the competition with this line: “In primetime, CNN continues to be the only cable news network to offer programming representing all points of view.”

• Not much of a case needs to be made for the success of CNN’s sister-network, HLN. HLN will have its best year ever in 2009 with some of its most well known programs, “Nancy Grace,” “Morning Express with Robin Meade,” and “Showbiz Tonight,” posting their best years yet. Year-to-year, HLN will be up 15% in Total Viewers and 12% in the demo in primetime.

Full press release after the jump.

CNN’s Audience Grows Compared to the Last Five Years, Highest Rated Year Outside of 2008 Record-Setting Election Year;
CNN Far Surpasses MSNBC’s Daytime, Non-Opinion Programming;
HLN Delivers Best Year Ever in Primetime and Total Day, Grows Most of Any Network in Prime;
CNN Digital Network is the No. 1 TV News Property in 2009

In 2009, CNN is positioned to have its most highly-rated year in five years in primetime (M-F/8p-11p) and total day (M-Su/6a-6a) among total viewers and in the key demo adults 25-54, outside of last year’s record-setting election coverage deliveries. CNN’s audience grew in 2009, with more viewers turning to the only cable news network that provides non-partisan programming representing all points of view than did in 2007, 2006, 2005 or 2004.

Primetime (M-F/8-11p)
2009 1.016m total viewers/298k key demo 25-54
2008 1.475m/525k – election year
2007 859k/269k
2006 848k/249k
2005 944k/298k
2004 963k/278k

Total Day (M-Su/6a-6a)
2009 613k total viewers/185k key demo 25-54
2008 696k/242k – election year
2007 484k/170k
2006 477k/165k
2005 515k/173k
2004 479k/157k

In head-to-head comparisons with MSNBC’s news programming (9a until 5p), CNN far surpasses MSNBC’s daytime non-opinion programming every weekday hour in total viewers and in the 25-54 demographic – with CNN averaging 708k total viewers/185k among 25-54 compared to MSNBC’s 334k/101k in 2009. For the year, MSNBC places either fourth or fifth (trailing behind CNBC) throughout the day, and third at 4p in the 25-54 key demo. CNN also outperforms MSNBC in total day (6a-6a) in 2009 in both total viewers (613k vs. 407k) and in adults 25-54 (185k vs. 150k). In primetime, CNN continues to be the only cable news network to offer programming representing all points of view.

In 2009, CNN launched two new programs, State of the Union with John King and Amanpour. On Sundays (9a-1p) CNN’s State of the Union averaged 609k total viewers and 176k among 25-54, an impressive 150% and 61% advantage over MSNBC’s programming (243k/109k) and at 2p, Amanpour bested MSNBC’s airing of Meet the Press by 111% in total viewers (389k vs. 184k) and by 42% among adults 25-54 (101k vs. 71k).

HLN set yet another ratings record in 2009, posting its best deliveries ever among total viewers and the 25-54 demo in both total day and primetime. Additionally, HLN had the most growth of any cable news network in primetime (both M-Su and M-F), up 15% among total viewers and up 12% in the 25-54 demo compared to a year ago on a weekday basis. This is the third year in a row that HLN has had its best year ever in the past five years in total day among total viewers and 25-54, and in primetime among 25-54.

2009 HLN program highlights include:
Morning Express with Robin Meade from 6a-10a had its best performance in HLN history in both total viewers and the 25-54 demo.
Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell at 7p increased the most of any evening cable news program (from 7p-12m) increasing 32% among total viewers and up 29% among 25-54 viewers.
Nancy Grace at 8p posted its best year ever in both total viewers and the 25-54 demo since the show launched in 2005.
The Joy Behar Show has increased 8% among total viewers launch-to-date (Oct.-present).
Showbiz Tonight at 11p posted its best year ever in both total viewers and the 25-54 demo since 2005.

In 2009, more people turned to the platforms of CNN Worldwide than any other news network — with 67.1 million coming to CNN for non-opinion programming on average each month, 49.1 million people turning to HLN for news, views and opinion programming, 37.9 unique visitors on average each month on CNN Digital, and CNN Mobile had 11.8 million users. On television, FNC reached 57.5 million and MSNBC 50.3 million viewers.