CNN slipped to fourth in primetime at 7 p.m., 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. among cable news networks in the key sales demographic for the month of October, Nielsen data showed.
The meager showing in primetime marks a decline of 78% in the adults 25-to-54 demo compared to October 2008, when the election was juicing cable news numbers across the board. As such, all networks showed year-to-year declines in total viewers and the category's target sales demographic of 25-54-year-olds. MSNBC was down 63% in the primetime demo, while Fox News Channel was off 36% and HLN and CNBC were each down 29%.
In primetime, CNN averaged 664,000 viewers with 186,000 in the demo. That was just enough to edge out its cable sibling HLN in the demo (185,000). HLN also finished fourth in total viewers with 513,000. But for weekday prime, CNN was down to fourth in the demo (202,000 viewers) compared to perennial leader Fox News (689,000), MSNBC (250,000) and HLN (221,000).
Fox News remained dominant across all dayparts. In primetime, Fox News averaged 2.1 million viewers with 560,000 in the demo. MSNBC was second with 699,000 viewers, 234,000 in the demo followed by CNN and HLN.
Fox News has also been aided by the White House's strategy to de-legitimize the network. The administration's battle with Fox News was the fifth-most covered story for the week ended Oct. 25 accounting for 15% of the news hole, according to the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism weekly coverage index.