Saturday, April 03, 2010

ON THE RATINGS WOES OF CNN

Well, I found an article on the Web about CNN and about the ratings problems it has been having lately. Seems the ratings have been taking a bath with the current prime-time lineup and the focus on covering all the world's disasters, uh, I mean news.

Personally, I think it's inevitable the ratings are down given the subject matter of the stories lately. The folks at CNN like to concentrate on the big international stories, but in recent months those have consisted mainly of covering earthquakes and other misery. There's so much you can take of the Haiti coverage. In fact, I've actually avoided watching any of the Haiti coverage over the past months because I just find the situation there to be just too depressing and hopeless.

Ratings were a lot better at CNN during 2008 because of the election coverage during the long and contested primary season. This year, though, CNN has mainly concentrated on covering earthquakes, and the political people have all migrated to MSNBC and Fox News because that's where all the politics and lively debate is happening these days.
I'll say this for these talking heads on MSNBC and Fox News Channel: at least they're entertaining. I'd rather watch these hosts get angry, and make myself angry, as opposed to watching CNN and get all depressed over world events. 
So anyway, CNN is in a slide, but there are some solutions. Among the programming suggestions in that article I linked to: BRING BACK CROSSFIRE!

I have to say, that is the first good suggestion I've seen for CNN in a long time. I never understood why they got rid of the show in the first place. As far as I know, they killed it because Jon Stewart declared it to be a terrible show. CNN then cancelled it based on one man's opinion, even though people were still watching it and the show's format still had plenty of life left. Jon Stewart may have hated the show, but political people liked the lively debate and the focus on political issues. 

CNN has gone straight downhill in the ratings ever since Crossfire was cancelled. In fact, that's one of the main problems over there -- they got rid of too many of their long-standing shows, particularly their political ones. (The Capital Gang is another old CNN show I miss.) Their business coverage has also gone downhill --- they lost Lou Dobbs when he quit last year, and their long-running business shows were cancelled a while ago.

But then again, Lou Dobbs was more of a political talking head by the time he left, too. So really, the reason CNN is getting killed is because the people want to tune into talking heads, and they aren't getting that from CNN. Instead, they're just getting news, and the world news these days can be pretty depressing.

As far as I'm concerned, talking heads are the solution to CNN's problems. If I were in programming at CNN the first thing I'd do is bring back their political shows. These political talkers and pundits may make people angry, but it's better for the ratings if the audience is angry and riled up.

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