When Bad News is Good News for CNN

By Jordan Chariton Comment

CNN ratingsBloomberg Businessweek’s Eric Chemi reports on CNN’s spike in ratings around big news events, specifically bad news stories like the Boston Marathon bombing and the more recent missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

For all the complaints about CNN’s breathless coverage of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 (This just in: no new developments!) , the cable network’s nonstop coverage certainly pays off from a business point of view. Big news events draw eyeballs. And delivering big ratings numbers for advertisers means more money in the cable network’s pocket, and better returns for Time Warner (TWX) shareholders.

Chemi’s chart, which measures weekly averages, shows a significant hike in viewership around stories with more tragic circumstances compared to standard political or crime stories.

As we reported earlier, the mystery of Flight 370 has been a huge ratings draw for CNN. From the start of coverage on March 8, through Sunday, March 23 the network’s total day viewing is up +82% among total viewers and up +99% in the A25-54 demo.