CNN's Ratings Plunged A Whopping Amount After The George Zimmerman Trial

Piers Morgan CNN

CNN posted ratings gains in July, beating MSNBC for the third consecutive month in both total-day and primetime viewers. But there were signs that CNN had trouble keeping those gains into the second half of the month, as it lost a huge chunk of the viewers it had gained in the midst of a busy news month that featured the George Zimmerman trial.

According to Nielsen Media Research, comparing ratings during the Zimmerman trial — July 8-21 —  to its aftermath — July 22-28 — CNN lost 43% of its total viewers in primetime and 60% of its viewers in the key 25-54 age demographic. In total-day viewers, CNN lost 32% of its total audience and 45% in the key demographic.

Such was the case for a network that went with an all-in, wall-to-wall strategy on the Zimmerman trial — at times earning itself criticism. On the other hand, Fox News only lost 4% of its primetime viewers, while MSNBC lost 11%. CNN’s sister network, HLN, also lost a huge chunk of its viewership after the trial.

In total, Fox continued to dominate the cable-news circuit in July, posting the top 13 programs in terms of total viewers. In basic cable, Fox News ranked fifth in overall ratings, while CNN and MSNBC came in at Nos. 30 and 35, respectively. 

Here are the full ratings, per Nielsen:


FNC: 1,065,000 total viewers (215,000 in 25-54)

CNN: 520,000 total viewers (183,000 in 25-54)

HLN: 386,000 total viewers (159,000 in 25-54)

MSNBC: 380,000 total viewers (137,000 in 25-54) 


FNC: 1,665,000 total viewers (294,000 in 25-54)

CNN: 672,000 total viewers (254,000 in 25-54)

HLN: 489,000 total viewers (196,000 in 25-54)

MSNBC: 583,000 total viewers (202,000 in 25-54)

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