I keep waiting for CNN to bottom out with these oxygen sucking ratings downer headlines. CNN’s programming isn’t that abysmal and yet the ratings keep on dropping. I’m beginning to wonder if the negative buzz is partly the problem; where all the horrid headlines are affecting viewing habits. Kind of like how banks sometimes fail; rumors start that a healthy bank is having trouble, there’s a run on the bank as everyone pulls their money out, and then the previously healthy bank does indeed fail.
Politico’s Dylan Byers makes a familiar point today, one that I’ve read too often lately…
While CNN struggles to make 24-hour news compelling, its competitors at Fox News and MSNBC have redefined the industry. They have eschewed traditional, straight-forward news gathering in favor of partisan, personality driven analysis — a model that is increasingly successful in an era of hyper-partisan politics, but one that CNN has resisted even as its ratings continue their slow and steady decline.
Looks like we need a new theory because everyone is down in primetime.
Look, I’m not going to try and snow you and say everything is pitch perfect at CNN because that obviously isn’t the case. But I think we need to put to bed once and for all the idea that personality driven analysis is the holy grail of cable news. I think the real story is that cable news is in a down cycle in what is historically an up cycle year (presidential election year). It’s hurting CNN worse because CNN is news dependent and with no major sustained breaking news cycles to feed off of and an unusually comatose election news cycle not generating expected election news cycle ratings, CNN is more vulnerable.
But that doesn’t mean CNN can stay the course and ride it out. Not with a primetime that typically consists of two live hours and one repeat, a lead-in which isn’t tearing it up in the ratings, and a lead-in to the lead-in which just got cancelled.
Meanwhile there was unpredictable predictable news in the morning. It was predictable that John Berman’s arrival would mean someone was leaving at Early Start. But what wasn’t predictable was that it was Ashleigh Banfield. Of the three potential anchors, Banfield, Sambolin, and Berman, Banfield had the biggest name recognition and the biggest cable news resume. So, on paper at least, Banfield’s departure potentially weakens Early Start. I say “potentially” because we don’t yet know how Sambolin and Berman will work out paired together. Maybe they’ll click and the show will rebound? Can’t know that yet.
Banfield’s arrival to 11am occurred as a result of Kyra Phillips
demotion move to HLN where, if you parsed Scot Safon’s memo carefully, she’ll get POV’d. That may prove interesting but it’s still a harsh move for such a veteran CNN anchor who had persevered through many previous dayside talent purges.
Moving Banfield to 11 also has the (perhaps) unintended consequence of putting pressure on CNN to do something with Carol Costello’s preceding two hours. I’m actually quite dumbstruck that the network hasn’t done more to tailor Costello’s shift to her the way it has Suzanne Malveaux’s and Brooke Baldwin’s. It doesn’t even have the custom open that the other two have. They’ve tried a few things but nothing has really stuck. It still doesn’t feel like Costello’s show the way Malveaux’s and Baldwin’s do. They need to come up with a gameplan and stick to it.