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CNN lately prospers in ratings -- ridicule and all


Don Lemon and the CNN Blizzardmobile drew heavy ridicule from Jon Stewart on Monday’s edition of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show.

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CNN’s momentum is showing.

The venerable all-news network’s substantial ratings gains in January have punched staggering MSNBC deeper into third place while Fox News Channel at last may be feeling a little heat.

And after year upon year of ratings declines or stagnation, it likely matters not to CNN why you’re watching.

The network’s now patented overkill coverage of “Breaking” stories, most recently the heavy snowstorms hitting the Eastern seaboard, has drawn ridicule from many quarters. CNN even threatens to replace Fox News Channel as Jon Stewart’s favorite punching bag.

But if you’re tuning in, who cares? CNN will take your laughter or disdain to the bank.

CNN also has done some decent business with a new batch of prime-time series and specials, including Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, Morgan Spurlock Inside Man and the Life Itself biography of the late film critic Roger Ebert.

And for everyday purposes, there’s always the dynamic duo of loose cannon Don Lemon and laughably intense Wolf Blitzer. Both were mercilessly hammered by Stewart on Monday’s The Daily Show. Lemon was an easy mark aboard the CNN Blizzardmobile while Blitzer went a little nuts over a miniature drone crash on the White House grounds.

Ah, but the numbers don’t lie.

For the month of January, CNN averaged 517,000 viewers for the total day, up 63 percent from a year ago. FNC still won by a comfortable margin with 974,000 viewers, but that was an 11 percent dip from last January. MSNBC continued to free-fall, suffering a 21 percent decrease to 323,000 viewers.

Among 25-to-54-year-olds (main target audience for news programming), CNN jumped 70 percent to 168,000 viewers. FNC dipped 15 percent to 192,000 viewers in this key demographic while MSNBC fell 38 percent to just 93,000.

The weeknight 7 to 10 p.m. prime-time numbers also showed CNN on a considerable upswing. Its 673,000 total viewers were a 45 percent increase from a year ago. And the 258,000 viewers in the 25-to-54 range were a quantum leap of 77 percent.

FNC fell 12 percent to 1.808 million viewers but had a modest gain of 4 percent among 25-to-54-year-olds (up to 345,000).

MSNBC again bled heavily, declining 25 percent in total viewers (to 614,000) and 45 percent in the key 25-to-54 measurement (to 143,000).

These are devastating numbers for MSNBC’s left-leaning plan of attack. FNC remains ahead of the pack with its long-held right-leaning approach but CNN lately has the mojo under the direction of former NBC Universal titan Jeff Zucker, who’s beginning his third year as president of CNN Worldwide.

“People talk a lot more about CNN today,” Zucker said in a fall 2014 New York Magazine profile. “I’m a big believer in ‘It’s all good.’ “

It’s even better when the ratings start to reflect the attention, the ridicule or whatever else comes CNN’s way. “CNN HAS ALL THE RATINGS MOMENTUM IN JANUARY,” the network crows in its latest publicity release. We’ll see what the rest of the New Year brings. But for now . . .

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