Primetime ratings for CNN have fallen 61% this month — the steepest dip in viewership among the big three cable news giants, according to the latest figures released by Nielsen.
The drop in ratings is a bad omen for CNN, which has struggled to right the ship since parent company Warner Bros. Discovery tasked Chris Licht with the job of turning the news channel around more than a year ago.
Despite the poor ratings, Licht has the support of his boss, Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav, who gave a pep talk to network managers urging them to steer clear of politically oriented commentary and partisanship.
“Ratings be damned,” he said. “Let’s focus on who we are. This is our mission. This is our legacy. And this is our journey together.”
A CNN spokesperson told The Post: “CNN is a top-five cable network in total day, has the youngest audience in cable news, reaches the most viewers in cable news in the demo, and is the #1 digital news platform in the world.”
“The impact of CNN’s journalism and the reach of the brand cannot be measured by a single metric,” the spokesperson told The Post.
A source close to the situation noted that viewership for all cable networks are down due to the accelerating trend of subscribers cutting the cord and opting for cheaper streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu.
CNN and other cable networks are also hamstrung by a relatively slow news cycle, which explains why they have struggled to replicate the same audience interest from a year ago, when Russia invaded Ukraine.
CNN saw strong ratings under the leadership of Licht’s predecessor, Jeff Zucker, and Zaslav said he recognized that a more partisan approach could bring more viewers and money, but that “it’s not what I came here to do,” according to a transcript of Zaslav’s speech.
He said he hoped the network would be able to figure out what is working and what isn’t. He urged the managers to not worry about outside noise.
Fox News averaged 2.09 million viewers in prime time in March, with MSNBC at 1.14 million and CNN at 473,000, according to Nielsen figures cited by the Associated Press.
In the key 25-54 age demographic for advertisers, CNN is seeing some of its lowest numbers in decades.
The poor ratings have also plagued other parts of CNN’s broadcasting schedule.
“CNN This Morning,” the morning show that features co-hosts Don Lemon, Kaitlan Collins, and Poppy Harlow, averaged just 359,000 total viewers in the last quarter, according to figures cited by Mediaite.
It was the 40th most watched show on cable news.
By comparison, MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” averaged 846,000 total viewers while Fox News Channel’s “Fox & Friends” broadcast emerged on top with an average of 1.21 million viewers.
“CNN This Morning” has been generating headlines for the turmoil and tension between the co-hosts that bubbled to the surface.
Lemon was forced to apologize and undergo sensitivity training after he said on the air last month that Nikki Haley, the 51-year-old GOP presidential candidate, was “not in her prime.”
Weeks earlier, Lemon reportedly chewed out Collins in full view of colleagues because he was upset she was purportedly interrupting him during their broadcast.
The network’s total day viewers fell by 27% in the last quarter.
Adding insult to injury, CNN has seen a 40% drop in the number of day viewers in the advertiser-coveted 25-54 age demographic.
Fox News, which shares a common owner with The Post, remained the most watched cable news channel in the country in the last quarter.
The network saw more modest declines in total day viewership as well as viewers in the 25-54 demo.
MSNBC, the Comcast-owned cable outfit, fell by 1% in total day viewers and 9% in the 25-54 demo.
While MSNBC has beaten CNN in the number of total viewers, CNN leads its rival in the 25-54 demo.
CNN’s primetime offerings have also bested those of MSNBC. Erin Burnett’s “Outfront” has consistently beaten Joe Reid of MSNBC’s “The ReidOut” in the 7 p.m. Eastern time hour.
In the 8 p.m. hour, Anderson Cooper of “AC360” has regularly outperformed Chris Hayes, the host of MSNBC’s “All In.”
Licht is reportedly looking to shake up primetime by adding blockbuster names, including CBS morning star Gayle King and basketball loudmouth Charles Barkley.
CNN is also set to roll out “CNN News Central,” its mid-day news offering that is designed to replicate the feel of election night.
The show debuts on Monday, with John Berman, Kate Bolduan, and Sara Sidner hosting the first three-hour block from the studios in New York City.
Brianna Keilar, Boris Sanchez, and Jim Sciutto will helm the noon-to-3 p.m. slot from Washington, DC.
The Post has sought comment from MSNBC and Fox News.
With Post wires