Friday, August 30, 2013

Abysmal ratings for Al Jazeera debut & CNBC

CNBC continued its ratings fall, hitting a 20-year low last week.  Viewing is down 35% from a year ago, averaging only 37,000 viewers in the key 25-54 demographic.  The continuing decline is leading to revenue shortfalls.  CNBC is available to some 100 million US households.

Meanwhile, Al Jazeera's American news channel experienced a rough start.  AT&T's U-verse system dropped the channel on the day it launched, citing contract issues.  This cut off several million homes from access, leaving the network with a reach of only 40 million US households (out of about 115 million).  According to Nielsen's numbers, Al Jazeera America started off with just 22,000 viewers, for a 0.2 rating.  That's actually below Nielsen's threshold for reporting.  The top show for the week drew just 54,000 viewers.  Interestingly, the network has more Twitter followers, at 75,000.

To give you an idea of just how bad these numbers were, here's the daily average viewing for the major cable news networks for the same week:  Fox News - 968,000; MSNBC - 348,000; CNN - 346,000.  Both Fox and MSNBC saw slight declines from the previous week, while CNN experienced a slight increase.  Despite some media gloating (especially at CNN) over Fox News' ratings decline, it still routinely draws around 2-3 times the viewership of the second place cable news channel in virtually all time slots. 
  Current, the news channel that Al Jazeera bought to get access to major multichannel distributors, averaged only 42,000 viewers in prime time in 2012, and saw ratings drop below thresholds for carriage on many of those systems before the sale to Al Jazeera.

Sources -  Bad news: CNBC hits 20-year ratings nadir,  NY Post
Al Jazeera American off to a slow ratings start, LA Times

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