CNN and MSNBC have both experienced a drastic drop in ratings since the end of former President Donald Trump’s time in office. According to recent data, the two popular cable networks’ viewership declined by more than 50 percent when compared to ratings a year ago.
“Primetime ratings for AT&T-owned CNN dropped 52 percent in the third quarter for viewers aged 25 to 54, a key demographic for advertisers, according to Nielsen figures,” the Financial Times reported. “MSNBC, the left-leaning network owned by Comcast’s NBCUniversal, suffered a 51 percent fall, while Rupert Murdoch’s rightwing Fox News faired comparatively better, with primetime ratings falling 37 percent during the quarter for this demographic.”
CNN and MSNBC are not the only cable news networks to suffer, however. With so many unprecedented events – Trump’s presidency, the covid-19 pandemic, historic protests against racial injustice, and more – news ratings soared in 2020 and in the beginning of 2021. Now ratings are down across TV broadcast networks.
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“This is uncharted waters after the Trump bump,” said Ken Doctor, founder of California news startup Lookout, in an FT interview. “It’s highly unlikely we will see another bump like that over the next 10 years.”
“We are now seeing expected audience pullback since the election,” Fox Corp. Chief Lachlan Murdoch said.
The decline is not limited to broadcast but has also seeped into print. The New York Times has also seen a decline in subscribers. NYT exec Meredith Kopit Levien wasn’t disheartened, however.
“I don’t think the world is getting any less interesting. I don’t think it’s getting any less complex,” Levien said.
Brian Wieser is the president of business intelligence at media investment company GroupM. He said TV ratings will continue to decline in the coming years.
“Presidential politics certainly can catalyse a lot of viewing, as can any ongoing drama, and you had both of those last year but [TV] viewing will continue to decline at a pretty rapid clip [due to cord-cutting]. So four years from now, total [TV] viewers will be 15-20 percent lower,” Wieser said.