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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Ad Week Talks CNN's Plummeting Ratings

From on Monday:

CNN's Digital Power PlayHow CNN's viewers have embraced a converged world of TV and Web By Mike Shields

CNN has been in the news lately for all the wrong reasons. “Worst ratings in 20 years” kind of reasons. But digitally, it continues to thrive, regularly approaching 60 million unique users. And to hear digital svp, gm KC Estenson tell it, CNN’s digital success may actually be the source of its TV woes.

Adweek: Even though your focus is digital, what can you say about CNN’s TV ratings?
Our audience is watching CNN in ways that are not detectable in the Nielsen ratings. We’ve long predicted a future with convergence between TV and the Web, and we’ve been setting ourselves up [for that dynamic]. We feel like we have all the right pieces to succeed in this converged world. It’s coming at the industry faster than anybody predicted.

What evidence do you have that your viewers are changing their habits so quickly?
If you look at the TV Everywhere numbers, we average 20 million minutes a month across the platforms. And CNN Digital generates 110 million video streams per month. And only about 10 [percent] to 15 percent of our Web video is original. It’s primarily TV content.

How has authenticated viewing affected
It’s hard to get a uniques number for TV Everywhere. We bundle all of that together as general mobile. Once somebody gets the live network, we see 30 minutes dwell time.

So, you’re saying that CNN viewers do watch CNN, just not on TV as much?
They’re tied to each other. No doubt. They are concentric circles. But our audience is 15 to 20 years younger [than our TV viewers]. If does a billion page views a month, around 250 million are on tablets and phones. If you watch what happens among mobile users, you see more engagement. That’s changing the whole dynamic. As you map that against penetration rates, engagement will only increase over time.

Is that very different than the dynamic at Fox News, which dominates the TV news ratings?
When I see the ratings stories and I see CNN getting bashed on TV, there is a huge story being missed. Our viewers consume media in a very modern media way. The traditional model works very well for Fox. That’s not our audience. Our viewers are educated, affluent, sophisticated. They’re global traveling citizens. The story about this brand is that its consumption habits are leading-edge.

OK, but the big money is still in TV, where Fox rules.
Yes, the money has always been there. But if you look at Mary Meeker’s report, it’s just a matter of time. It’s moving faster in mobile. Twice as fast. I think for us, we have an integrated sales team that sells across all the platforms. There’s stronger monetization than what’s being speculated. The ad story is going to catch up. Sometimes when you’re on the leading edge, it takes a little while.

What about the suddenly crowded digital news category?
There are a lot of desperate moves happening. This thing is going to break into quality and scale versus the rest. Once AOL and HuffPo came together, that created a very big news player. Of course, Yahoo is the biggest, but we don’t really compete with them. ABC News was ranked No. 7 or worse in the category, so they had no other choice [to partner with Yahoo.] And is a very complicated mess. They don’t play in the premium, integrated sponsorship space we play in.
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Anonymous said...

" And is a very complicated mess. They don’t play in the premium, integrated sponsorship space we play in." Go ahead and get your pot shots in now CNN. Once NBCUniversal, MSNBC, and Microsoft untangle the online mess they are in now, I predict that MSNBC will become a major player in the online news and video streaming realm that CNN claims to dominate now. CNN has done a good job of establishing an online presence and integrating it with TV but their viewership is waning nonetheless. If you go to and look at the TV videos they feature on the front page, they are often outdated. Given the limits that cell phone carriers are starting to put on mobile device broadband usage, I would say people are going to throttle their video use. I go to news sites all the time on my mobile smartphone but I rarely watch video clips because it is faster and more private to read articles. Reading that whole adweek article makes me think CNN is deeply insecure about their bad ratings. Here's a thought, try getting back to doing the news instead of yapping your mouth in the press about how your ratings don't actually suck. The potential is there but execution is bad and editorial vision is GONE!

Anonymous said...

Mobile and digital are the future. TV will still be
around but VOD,DVR and mobile devices are a
bigger slice of the pie. It is more people with a
mobile device or more. Many people don't even
own TV's anymore. Netflix just reached the billion
milestone. TV can get millions but mobile can get
a billion or more.

Besides the ratings for all of the so-called cable
news channels have going down. CNN needs to
start airing Evening Express from 6- 8 PM. The
show is not doing too bad for HLN and there is
the potential for more viewers for the show on
CNN. As far as I'm concerned, News Room
International & Evening Express are the best moves
for CNN. Move TSR back to 4-6PM.

Anonymous said...

@1.26pm Evening Express is HLN's lowest rated program in the demo and second lowest in total. It's performing even worse than Vinnie Politan did at the same time slot. Besides, there's NO real news on that show AT ALL. CNN has enough problems, it certainly doesn't need another show that no one cares about.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree that internet offerings whether its video or written stories will play a bigger part in the future. "TV" as we know it is changing - please not Anon 1:26 that DVR is still traditional TV. In fact, the live streaming referenced the Adweek article is still in many ways traditional TV because the "TV Everywhere" services is ONLY available to those with a verifiable satellite or cable service. CNN does NOT livestream for free. Yes, they post video clips but all episodes of shows are strictly monetized. Netflix is hugely popular BUT you can't get CNN on it. The digital VP quoted in the adweek article is still very much operating in the TV business model. MSNBC is making a play into this market and will probably pass up CNN just as they have done in TV. CNN needs to change how they do the news, not just figure out how to optimize distribution.

Anonymous said...

The International News hour at noon rocks! I DVR it and watch it in thevenings many times!

Anonymous said...