How Soon Can CNN Get Its Retention Strategy Up and Running?

By Alex Weprin 

The NY Times Bill Carter spends 10 paragraphs recapping Wednesday night’s cable news ratings, and finds that things are not going smoothly for CNN.

As we have written about over the last few weeks, as breaking news with high public interest from Egypt and Japan fades away, viewers that were tuning int CNN in droves appear to be returning to their usual viewing habits.

Or as Carter wrote:

In a repetition of a pattern that has become familiar for CNN, the surge of interest in breaking news that helped drive up its audiences has faded – and so have CNN’s ratings.

The cable news network’s prime-time lineup has not capitalized much on the attention its news coverage gained, returning for the most part to a steady finish in third place behind Fox News and MSNBC.

As we wrote earlier this week, CNN has developed a strategy to retain viewers, focused on events programming that can be easily monetized, while it retools its morning, dayside and prime programming.

Of course CNN’s situation in the morning is still unsettled, and 7 and 8 PM remain serious question marks. Until the lineup becomes a cohesive whole that makes people want to tune in after news fades away, easily monetized events may not be enough.