CNN Ratings Continue To Plummet, Q2 Lowest In Two Decades

CNN isn’t doing so hot. Q2 of 2012 clocked in as its lowest-rated quarter in a whopping 21 years as the news network continues to struggle to re-establish itself as a moderate news network and find a solid audience base.

To be fair, all of the major media networks suffered a drop in Q2. March 26th to June 22nd was lower this year for all three major news networks than it was in in 2011. Fox News Channel saw a modest drop in ratings, while MSNBC and CNN suffered dramatically. CNN’s ratings put it at its lowest point since 1991, reports NY Daily. The numbers show an average of 446,000 total viewers in the primetime slot for CNN. To put this in perspective, MSNBC averaged 689,000 while Fox News vastly overshadowed the competition with 1.79 million viewers, reports Deadline.

CNN tries to carve out a balance between right-leaning Fox and left-leaning MSNBC, and does still boast strong international ratings. It’s U.S. ratings have suffered decline, with several desperate lineup changes failing to lift the network’s sagging domestic popularity.CNN recently cancelled the John King show, and are looking to extend Wolf Blitzer’s Situation Room for another hour. The personalities you’d think would help CNN actually don’t. Piers Morgan at 9:00 p.m. declined by just as large a percentage as the network did overall, also falling considerably from the previous year. The same was true even for Anderson Cooper, who got 19% lower viewers.

All this begs the question: why?

According to Bill Carter of the New York Times, CNN’s biggest problem is that it doesn’t take a stand. Being too moderate is actually slowly killing them, because outside of election season, there’s not a whole lot going on. That’s why TV pundits of Fox and MSNBC are king. They’re entertainment when news is slow. And according to Carter, CNN “has yet to find an answer to what to do when news is light.”

Dylan Byers of Politico notes that morale is low around the CNN water cooler, and that a lack of focus is dragging the network down. “It’s frustrating to hear our leadership talk about the exemplary journalism we do, then turn on the TV during the day and see CNN doing another story about ‘birthers’ or ‘tips for dining out alone,'” said one staffer. Despite top-level rebuttal, Byers notes that the staffer’s complaints are readily apparent, saying that even “Cooper, once known for intrepid reports from disaster zones, now makes his most notable contributions to the following day’s news with a humor segment called ‘The RidicuList.'”

The upcoming election will kind-of sort-of give CNN a temporary stay of execution, but they’re not going to make it another four years without changing things up.

Do you watch CNN?