CNN Lowest Rated Prime-Time Cable News

According to an article in the New York Times, CNN, who created the market for Cable news 30 years ago, is now the lowest rated of all four stations in the highly profitable prime-time hours.

The Times recognizes that a good amount of the decline may be due to the fact that MSNBC and Fox News both have such visible ideological slants in their commentators and CNN ‘tries‘ to stay neutral (compared to those two however, what does ‘neutrality’ even mean).

This is of course treading on dangerous waters because one has to wonder how long CNN will stand be in last place before it fully resorts to replacing Anderson Cooper with their own Olbermann or O’Reilly? Will CNN have to abandon their attempts at neutrality altogether to stay competitive in the media market, something the Times article alludes to almost as an inevitability?

In an era when the relationship between the White House and Fox News is making headlines, and when the ideological rivalry between MSNBC on the left and Fox News on the right is commanding the spotlight, CNN has little from a news angle to stir consistent interest from viewers.

As a consequence, CNNs position in prime-time programming, the most profitable area of the cable news business, has been undermined by the strength of competing channels that focus largely on opinion-based programs during those hours.

CNN itself is responsible for one of those competitors, having installed some popular opinionated hosts at its sister network HLN, formerly Headline News, which has emerged in recent months as a stronger performer in prime time than CNN itself.

In October, CNNs programs were behind not only Fox and MSNBC, but HLN as well. HLN relies on hosts like Nancy Grace and Jane Velez-Mitchell.

Perhaps most alarming for CNN was the performance of Anderson Cooper, who has become the signature host for the network in prime time. Mr. Cooper, who as recently as 2008 was a ratings leader at 10 p.m., finished fourth and last at 10 p.m. in October. He trailed not only the leader, Greta Van Susteren, on Fox, but Keith Olbermann on MSNBC and Ms. Grace on HLN, despite the fact that both those shows were repeats of programs that had been broadcast at 8 p.m.

CNN Last in TV News on Cable [Twitter]