Where Did All the Cable News Viewers Go?

By Chris Ariens 

tvs304As you may have seen from our May ratings posts, the cable news channels are seeing double digits drops in their audience. Fox News, MSNBC, CNN and HLN are all down, year-over-year.

So where did the viewers go?

A few possible explanations: May is a big month for broadcast TV; there was not a big news story driving viewership; despite being a mid-term election year, there are few compelling political stories; second, third screens; Netflix.


Another explanation for viewers still tuned in to cable is the continued growth of reality, non-scripted and documentary TV on channels like History, Discovery, HGTV, and even the new channel AHC, or American Heroes Channel. Formerly known as Military Channel and before that Discovery Wings, for the first three months under its new name, AHC is posting double digit year-over-year growth. With series like “Myth Hunters” and mini-series like “Nazis: An Evolution of Evil,” the network was up +15% in primetime, and up +25% in total day, total viewers. Another channel, Science, with shows like “Outrageous Acts of Science” and “Survivorman: Bigfoot,” is up +20% in primetime and up +4% in total day, total viewers. Both networks rank lower than the cable news channels, but they’re growing.

It’s no wonder CNN, HLN, FBN, CNBC and others are adding more of this kind of programing to their schedules.