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CNN ratings tumble farther in May

Evening shows beaten by OWN, BIO, others in key demo

The ratings news has been pretty grim at CNN for a while now, and it’s not getting better.

Nielsen released data Tuesday for the month of May (through May 28) that showed CNN’s primetime average in both total viewers (388,000) and adults 25-54 (113,000) tumbling more than 50% year-to-year for what’s believed to be its lowest-rated month in at least 20 years. All of the cable newsies were down vs. last year, but CNN’s declines were easily the steepest.

CNN ranked 37th among all cable networks for the month in total viewers and 47th in adults 25-54. By comparison, Fox News was No. 5 in May among total viewers (1.65 million) and No. 24 in the demo (319,000), and MSNBC ranked 29th in overall audience (658,000) and 33rd in adults 25-54 (213,000).

Its poor rankings meant CNN lagged networks like LMN and Animal Planet in total viewers while falling behind both of those as well as OWN, BIO and CMT in the key 25-54 demo. CNN’s primetime audience in May was also below what Fox News averaged for its young 5 a.m. program “FOX & Friends First” (496,000 total viewers, including 198,000 adults 25-54) — even though significantly fewer people are watching television at that time.

The 10 p.m. “Anderson Cooper 360” was CNN’s top primetime show for the month (420,000 total viewers/147,000 in 25-54), but it was down about 60% in both. “Piers Morgan Live” (417,000/117,000) was down about 50%.

It’s not just primetime that’s hurting CNN, but also the shows leading into the evening hours. Wolf Blitzer’s 5 p.m. show (431,000 viewers), John King’s 6 p.m. show (338,000) and Erin Burnett’s 7 p.m. program (307,000) all saw their viewership tumble more than 50% year to year.

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