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CNN falls behind Hallmark Channel in holiday ratings battle

Hundreds of thousands of Americans have been tuning in to ongoing coverage of the impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump over the last several weeks, lapping up new developments and as much crosstalk as the three cable news giants appear willing to serve.

But at least one non-news channel managed to best the most-trusted name in news last week as the holidays approached.

Last week, the Hallmark Channel placed third in overall cable news viewership, according to figures released by Nielsen, the measurement firm that gauges television viewership. The channel was behind Fox News and MSNBC in overall viewership between December 16 and December 22, Nielsen data showed.

Hallmark was watched in 957,000 homes, according to Nielsen, compared to CNN’s 778,000 homes. Hallmark’s schedule that week was an assortment of holiday-themed movies and television shows, while CNN provided ongoing coverage of the impeachment hearings and other political matters.

Hallmark also earned higher figures in prime-time viewership that week, drawing 1.73 million viewers to its movies.  The channel placed fourth overall — behind Fox News, MSNBC and sports channel ESPN, but again ahead of CNN, which placed fifth.

Despite bombarding viewers with superficial political coverage, CNN has struggled to gain ground against its two more-partisan rivals. In the latest ratings quarter, CNN placed third overall and second in the key advertiser demographic of viewers between the ages of 25 and 54 years old. Overall, Fox News had an average of 1.4 million viewers each day, while MSNBC drew an average of 880,000 viewers and CNN had an average of 624,000 viewers.

The network’s low ratings have been a source of concern among low-level producers, show bookers and other television news staff, some of whom told the Fox News Channel they were worried about their job security. Those employees said there were less concerns about high-profile talent like Anderson Cooper, who have leverage to negotiate better deals compared to news producers, editors and directors.

CNN has also fallen behind in digital traffic to its web platforms, according to industry data. Once the number one web destination among cable news outlets, CNN was overtopped by Fox News Channel in overall website traffic last year according to data measurement firm Comscore; CNN has continued to lag behind Fox News Channel in other key Comscore metrics since.

CNN disputed Comscore’s calculations last year when the data showed it falling behind Fox News Channel. Prior to 2018, CNN touted Comscore’s data as reliable when the network leveraged it to promote various digital products.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 11 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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