CNN’s ratings woes not limited to Campbell Brown and Larry King


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While CNN is spending much of its time focusing on jump starting its 8 and 9 p.m. hours, it might want to start paying a little more attention to the 7 and 10 p.m. hours as well. That’s what a quick look at the July ratings reveals.

At 7, John King’s show is off 42% in viewers and 36% in adults 25-54 from what Lou Dobbs was averaging last July, according to Nielsen. Last year, Dobbs averaged 723,000 viewers, and while that was far behind Shepherd Smith’s show at Fox News, he was beating everyone else. Now, though, CNN has dropped to fourth in that hour.


Anderson Cooper also doesn’t have a lot to smile about. His 10 p.m. show had a disappointing July, averaging only 575,000 viewers. Not only is that down 56% from July 2009, it is the second-least-watched month ever for Cooper who spent much of his time on the road covering the British Petroleum oil spill and the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake.

CNN is working hard to revamp the 8 p.m. hour. Campbell Brown recently left her show, citing its disappointing ratings as one of the causes for her exit. CNN is going to launch a political chat show featuring former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer and columnist Kathleen Parker this year. That show was seen as a shift toward the more debate and issues approach to cable news of its rivals.

Larry King also gave notice that he will be leaving the 9 p.m. hour he has anchored for over two decades this fall. However, there apparently isn’t a lot of sentimentality regarding news of King’s exit because his July audience was off 55%. Of course, last July King was able to milk the death of Michael Jackson for big ratings.

CNN is certainly struggling in the ratings right now and is off 53% in prime-time viewers compared to last July, but its stronger rivals can’t crow too much. Fox News is still on way out on top, but its prime-time average is down 11% in viewers compared to the same month a year ago while MSNBC was off 9%. CNN’s sister channel HLN saw 20% of its audience disappear.

-- Joe Flint

[Updated Wednesday at 3:29 p.m.: A previous version of this post misspelled Spitzer’s first name as Elliot.]