(June 3, 2012)
-- CNN last month suffered its lowest primetime ratings for a
single month in 20 years, writes The Hollywood Reporter.
CNN captured an average of just 389,000
viewers in primetime from April 30 to May 27. That's a whopping
51 percent drop from May 2011. In contrast, the Fox News Channel
pulled an average of 1,692 viewers in May 2012 while MSNBC
captured an average of 674,000 viewers.
CNN executives have publicly acknowledged that the network has a
problem that must be fixed -- and soon. But they have yet to
offer any suggestions that could turn the network around in
primetime, other than whisper vague hopes that a news crisis
could occur at any time. (CNN's ratings traditionally soar
during domestic and international emergencies.)
So I thought I would offer my own ideas on how to fix CNN in
primetime. They're free of charge but priceless in their wisdom,
of course. (IMHO, that is).
7 p.m. - Currently, Erin Burnett: Out Front
I love Erin Burnett, but she's not a star, despite CNN's attempt
to promote her as one. At CNBC, she came across as your younger
(albeit brighter) sister and not much has changed during her
tenure at CNN. She just doesn't have the magnetism to hold a
show on her own. If I were CNN, I would team her with John King
in a 5-7 p.m. early news slot.
And as for the 7 p.m. hour, I would move Wolf Blitzer and The
Situation Room there. Blitzer brings an urgency to the newscast,
making every story sound like it's World War II. That's what you
need to succeed in cable news primetime, which explains why The
Situation Room's ratings at 5 p.m. are better than Burnett in
primetime. The Situation Room feels
important at 5 p.m.; Erin Burnett's Out Front at 7 p.m.
feels like an afterthought.
8 p.m. - Currently,
Anderson Cooper 360
The network has invested heavily in Anderson Cooper so I would
keep him at 8 p.m. for now. But he needs to be on a short leash.
His ratings are just a bit better than Burnett at 7 p.m. and
Piers Morgan at 9 p.m. If they don't improve soon -- and I don't
expect they will -- CNN will need to bite the bullet and bring
in someone new. In the long run, I think Cooper would do better
in the morning. He's just not a primetime guy; too prissy, too
9 p.m. - Currently, Piers Morgan Tonight
Welcome back, Keith Olbermann! Yes, why not? He's tan, rested
and ready after his latest network blow-out (this time, Al
Sure, he will blow-out at CNN in a year or so, too, but Keith
does bring in ratings -- and CNN is desperate for ratings. One
year or two of improved ratings is worth every ounce of grief
that Keith will eventually bring their way.
Plus, I have a new twist for the show that could broaden the
audience. Keith would devote the first 30 minutes of the 9 p.m.
slot to the day's top news and the second half to sports.
Olbermann is equally versed in both subjects and the sports
coverage could lure away some male viewers from Fox News.
What should CNN do with Piers Morgan? Pay him off, ASAP. His
ratings are terrible and I don't think you could use him
effectively in any time slot, morning or night. It was a bad
call to hire him in the first place and it's time for CNN to
acknowledge it publicly.
10 p.m. - Currently,
Another Dose of Anderson Cooper 360
It's finally time to bring Nancy 'Tot Mom' Grace up from the
minors (CNN Headline News, which actually is doing better than
CNN). Her strident but powerful rants about alleged miscarriages
of justice could give Greta Van Susteren's Off the Record a real
run for its money at Fox.
As of now, CNN is running another hour of Anderson Cooper at 10
p.m. That's just serving up the lambs to the lions.
So there you go, CNN. Make it happen. _____________________________________________________________________________