Skip to main content

Analysis: Zucker Has Work Cut Out for Him at Third-Place CNN

Jeff Zucker has a big job ahead of him at CNN.

All indications are that Zucker will be assuming the post
that Jim Walton will be leaving vacant, as the New York Times' Brian
Stelter reported Tuesday night. Zucker is the former head of NBCUniversal and
the current executive producer of Disney-ABC's new talk show starring Katie

Unlike his time at NBC, which was winning primetime when
Zucker took it over in 2000, CNN is the lowest-rated cable news network. Fox
News Channel is basic cable's second-highest rated network, coming in behind
only ESPN with an average of 2.6 million viewers in primetime, beating even
NBCU's top-rated entertainment cable network, USA. Compared to last November,
when there was no election, Fox is up 47% among total viewers and up 56% among
news' key demographic of adults 25-54 in primetime. Fox News also boasts
cable's top-two news programs, The O'Reilly Factor and Hannity,
among that key demo.

MSNBC, with cable news' third-highest rated program among
adults 25-54, Rachel Maddow, is the 11th-ranked basic cable network,
averaging 1.3 million viewers in primetime. MSNBC showed the most growth in
November, jumping 76% in viewers and 108% among adults 25-54 in primetime.

CNN comes in third, and is the 17th-highest ranked basic
cable network, averaging 1.05 million viewers in primetime. Anderson Cooper
is CNN's highest-rated program, but it's the 19th-ranked cable news
program, with 12 Fox shows, including a repeat of O'Reilly, and six
MSNBC shows coming in ahead of it. Still, CNN also showed strong growth in
November, adding 64% in viewers and 116% among adults 25-54.

CNN had a few other things to brag about in November.
According to CNN, the network improved 59% in viewers in total day, jumping to
an average of 652,000 viewers compared to last year's 409,000 viewers. The
network also improved 98% in total day in the key adult 25-54 demo. That's
CNN's "best monthly performance in total day in over a year among both
total viewers and in the key demo 25-54 and in Monday-Friday prime among adults

CNN's election results also were positive, with the network
coming in first on election night among total viewers, and adults 25-54. CNN
also was TV's top news network on election night among adults 18-34, and was the
top network in the key adult demo for the entire day.

In general, November was a good month for news.

Fox News Channel remained cable's most-watched news channel,
which has been true since January 2002, and boasted seven out of the top-ten
cable news shows, including two runs of The O'Reilly Factor, Hannity,
The Five, Special Report with Bret Baier, On the Record with
Greta van Susteren
, and The Fox Report with Shepard Smith.

In addition, America Live with Megyn Kelly and The
both hit their highest-rated months ever in total viewers and in
adults 25-54, while America's Newsroom and Happening Now both
attracted their biggest audiences ever. Fox & Friends, Studio B
with Shepard Smith
and Your World with Neil Cavuto all hit their
highest total viewers since September 2005.

The story was much the same over at MSNBC, where Hardball
with Chris Matthews
, PoliticsNation, The Ed Show and Last
Word with Lawrence O'Donnell
all hit all-time highs among viewers, and Morning
and Rachel Maddow turned in their best adult 25-54 numbers since
the last presidential election in November 2008.