Despite all of the recent negative attention that CNN has garnered for some of the liberties it has taken in reporting breaking news stories or simply the ridiculous debate topics, the network is actually doing pretty well in the ratings. In fact, even as it has been a punching bag for The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, among other outlets, CNN finished second to Fox News in the ratings ending July 7. That is, of course, great news for CNN, but it’s also bad news for the second place standard bearer, MSNBC.
As of May, MSNBC had dropped to fourth place in daytime ratings (third in primetime), far behind its commonly-accepted rival, Fox News, as well as CNN in second and HLN in third. By July 7, MSNBC’s viewership in that coveted demographic of people ages 25 to 54 was down 15% from the same time last year. But despite all of that bad news, MSNBC exec Phil Griffin says it’s nothing to worry about.
“There has been an inordinate amount of big, breaking news, and that is, honestly, when CNN does well. It’s pure muscle memory,” he said. MSNBC’s performance is bound to suffer in comparison with that of 2012, he added, when a presidential election drew political junkies and casual viewers alike.
“MSNBC’s problems might be more than just a hiccup,” [author Jeffrey] McCall maintained. “Now that the Obama administration’s fortunes have apparently declined with various challenges like NSA, IRS and Benghazi, previously (enthusiastic) news consumers on the left might find it hard to keep tuned in.” (Via Variety)
While the whole politics angle might be valid, Pew Research suggests that it all boils down to content and the thing that people actually expect from their news providers – the news.
An analysis by Pew Research of 108 hours of cable-news programming during three days in November and December found opinion and commentary overwhelmed straight news on MSNBC by 85% to 15%. Fox News content included 55% opinion and commentary and 45% factual reporting, Pew said, while CNN content consisted of 46% opinion and commentary and 54% factual reporting.
Maybe it’s sometimes better to get the news wrong if it means you’re actually reporting it and not just laughing at the actor’s funny accent.