CNN has long touted the tagline “fair and balanced,” but over the years many viewers have left the news network because they had the feeling it might not be so balanced anymore.
In fact, for many, CNN had developed a reputation for being a little too left of center for their taste, driving them into the arms of the only right-wing news network available, Fox News. Luckily, this year’s presidential race has helped CNN find the middle road again, as well as their viewership.
Boosting Debates and Audiences
Since the beginning of 2016, CNN’s primetime audience has doubled to over 435,000 viewers in its 25- to 54-year-old target demographic, as reported in the Wall Street Journal. This is just shy of Fox News’ primetime audience of 450,000, and well above MSNBC’s 225,000 primetime viewers. Instead of focusing primarily on the extremes of either party, CNN’s new strategy has been to add more middle-of-the-road conservatives to their existing liberal-leaning voice, as well as additional coverage of conservative presidential candidates, in order to provide a little something for everyone.
CNN has also been gambling, and winning, with a strategy incorporating more presidential debates than any other network and more than a dozen town halls with the presidential hopefuls. Between its close attention to the presidential election and new investment in original series, CNN has managed to bring in 100 new advertisers over the last three years. According to media buyers, a 30-second prime time advertising spot on CNN cost about $5,000 during 4th quarter 2014. That price increased to $7,000 in 4th quarter 2015, indicating demand is also increasing.
A Balanced Network
Ad rates during the debates were even more impressive, topping out around $200,000 for a 30-second spot. Although other networks have criticized CNN’s sudden growth as a reaction to increased coverage of Donald Trump, CNN’s president Jeff Zucker credits the changes he’s made in CNN’s voice, telling Wall Street Journal, “I think that we are a much more balanced network and, as a result, a much more inviting network to a segment of the audience that might not have otherwise been willing to come here.”