Little Payoff Yet For Kaplans Efforts


New York-So far, CNN/U.S. president Rick Kaplan's effort to create destination viewership for Cable News Network hasn't shielded the network from ratings declines this year, even as the numbers on CNN's election coverage so far this year have outpaced those of its all-news rivals.

In the first quarter, CNN was down 20 percent in primetime to a 0.8 rating, or 594,000 homes, according to Nielsen Media Research data supplied by Turner Entertainment Research.

CNBC saw even a bigger primetime hit, down a whopping 43 percent to a 0.4 rating, or 307,000 homes, lagging way behind CNN.

Fox News Channel was down in primetime this first quarter, dropping 17 percent to a 0.5, or 229,000 homes, which still put it ahead of MSNBC, with was flat with a 0.4 rating, or 217,000 homes.

Perhaps most striking, CNN was down 33 percent in total day this first quarter to 310,000 homes from 445,000 a year ago.

CNN officials were quick to stress that this year hasn't had the huge stories-like impeachment, the Monica Lewinsky scandal and the air strikes against the former Yugoslavia-that pumped up ratings at all-news channels at this time last year.

But the whole point of Kaplan's appointment shows was to buttress CNN against breaking-news slumps like the one the 24-hour news channels are now experiencing.

Responding for Kaplan, Sue Binford, executive vice president of public relations for CNN News Group said: "The fact that viewers tuned in heavily every night CNN/U.S. aired special primary coverage shows we are drawing appointment viewers. Drawing conclusions on the success/failure of appointment viewing against the backdrop of a cyclical news environment is misguided."