Diary

CNN: The Comedy News Network Strikes Back

There are few transcendent principles that continually prove themselves more than Liberals Stick Together.  In a hagiographic fantasy, The Wrap published an interview with CNN chief Jeff Zucker, who made the funniest joke I’ve heard since Night Court went off the air: “Everyone said we were getting out of news — we doubled-down on news.”

CNN really needs to re-evaluate its acronym.

Now that Comedy Central is getting out of the news business, CNN should change it’s name to the Comedy News Network, and give Zucker his own show, because I laughed myself silly at the “doubled-down” remark.  In fact, they should call the show “Doubled-Down with Jeff Zucker”.  I’d watch that.

In order to make any claim of CNN’s newsworthiness, let alone a comeback, The Wrap had to compare it to MSNBC (even the Obama Kool-Aid set had to admit that the “Lean Forward” network is “ratings-challenged”, because no literate person could argue against that, besides Rachel Maddow of course).  They resorted to convoluted numbers of how much “up” CNN got:

And CNN’s up big: 59 percent in viewers and 62 percent in the coveted 25-54 demo during the day; 35 percent in viewers and 50 percent in the demo in primetime (Monday-Sunday).

This is compared to CNN’s own past numbers, which, if they were a credit score, wouldn’t qualify for a Starbucks gift card account.

Life hack:  if you want to make your own numbers look good, always compare them to your own worse numbers.  “My batting average is up .500!”  (It went from .090 to .180).  “My GPA is up big:  3.6!”  (It was 0.2, and now it’s 0.72).

In CNN’s case, 62% means something like this:  their 25-54 daytime rating went from 55 to 145!  Hooray!  Of course, that’s compared to Fox News’ 253.  CNN surged past MSNBC’s heroic 67—eat my dust, dingo!

ratings-feb-13

The real story:  Fox News’ is about equal to CNN, MSNBC and CNBC combined in the “coveted 25-54”, and way, way above everyone else combined in the total daytime ratings.  Only if you eliminate Fox News from the herd (an Obama wet dream) can you make any claim of Jeff Zucker striking back.

Abandoning all pretense of news, CNN has turned to A&E or TLC fare:  Anthony Bourdain and Mike Rowe.  Now, I like Bourdain and Rowe, they both tell it like it is.  But I wouldn’t consider them “newsmen” or even “pundits”.  Here’s Zucker’s comedic response to moving away from news.

Are you concerned with pushing away longtime CNN viewers who want all the news on CNN TV?

Good question, but wrong. Because what’s actually increased at CNN is the length of tune-in of our viewers, meaning that those viewers are actually watching for a longer length of time each time they come. So, we’re not alienating those viewers; actually by giving them what they’re interested in and more of it, they’re staying longer. That criticism from media critics — it may be a media criticism — but actually has been completely the opposite for our viewers. And our viewers have actually completely responded to it, and our length of tune-in has actually increased.

My mother used to turn on soap operas in the afternoon, and then leave the television on the rest of the day, tuned to CBS or ABC or wherever her latest soap was.  Zucker is claiming CNN as heir to the TV-in-the-background set, while real people go about their day.  It’s like claiming that your demo in doctor’s office waiting rooms has increased 50%.  Nobody’s actually watching, Mr. Zucker.

Besides comedy, there is one other area where CNN beats Fox.  Annually, more than 300,000 people take the CNN Inside Studio Tour in Atlanta.  That’s better ratings than any of its shows, and beats Fox by a mile.

Wait, Fox doesn’t offer a studio tour.  Darn.