CNN: Billions of Online Video Views Means it’s More Than Just a Cable News Network

CNN: Billions of Online Video Views Means it’s More Than Just a Cable News Network

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Some of the journalists and bloggers who cover the news media can be pretty myopic. For example, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read stories about CNN that are narrowly focused just on its cable TV ratings. Nielsen Media Research recently reported that Fox News ranked #1 among all cable networks during the week of March 6-12, 2017, with an average of 2.4M viewers in prime time. MSNBC ranked #3, with an average of 1.7M viewers. And CNN ranked #11, with an average of 884K viewers. Now, it’s true that the Cable News Network was founded in 1980 by Ted Turner as a 24-hour cable news channel. So, I totally understand the origin of this myopic point of view. But it is an out-of-date one.

So, how should observers of the news media see CNN? Well, Tubular Labs just reported that its February 2017 leaderboards are out. And CNN ranks #7 in the news and politics genre of the media and entertainment category with more than 470M views that month. Fox News ranks #8 with over 342M views in February. MSNBC ranks #41 with 62M views that month.

Top Cross-platform Video Publishers: News and Politics February 2017 (All Data via Tubular Labs)

CNN: 8.4 Billion Online Video Views

In fact, videos uploaded by official CNN properties have generated over 8.4 Billion views across all the main social video platforms since 2007. Now, I realize that comparing cable TV viewers with social video views is comparing apples and oranges. But, if you wanted to reach an affinity audience like news junkies, where would you invest your ad dollars? This isn’t one of those hypothetical questions that you can safely duck.

And it’s worth noting that the About tab on CNN’s YouTube channel says, “CNN identifies itself as – and is widely known to be – the most trusted source for news and information.” Yes, the CNN umbrella includes nine cable and satellite television networks, but it also includes the CNN Digital Network, which is the top network of news Web sites in the United States. So, maybe it’s time for myopic media critics to refocus on the bigger picture.

If they did, then they might see that CNN uploaded 4,838 videos to four accounts in the last 90 days, which got a total of 1.9 billion views and 41.7 million engagements. By comparison, Fox News uploaded 6,824 videos the four accounts in the last 90 days, which got a total of 1.3 billion views and 48.6 million engagements. And MSNBC uploaded 1,429 videos to 5 accounts, which got a total of 133 million views and 3.4 million engagements. In other words, Fox News is uploading more videos, but CNN is getting significantly more views per video. In fact, the 10 videos with the most views over the last 90 days – across the three news media brands – are all from CNN. They are:

#1 The Obamas meet The Trumps

#2 Aerial views of marches in cities across the US in solidarity with the #WomensMarch on Washington

#3 Interviewee interrupted by his children – while live on air

#4 “So you have no personal experience with college financial aid or management of higher education”

#5 Watch Obama laugh at his own jokes

#6 Blast at Mexico fireworks market injures dozens

#7 Obama awards Biden the Presidential Medal of Freedom

#8 Trump advances controversial oil pipelines with executive action

#9 Touching video shows toddler rescuing twin

#10 Former President Obama and Michelle Obama depart from the US Capitol following President Donald J. Trump’s inauguration ceremony

So, it appears to me that CNN used breaking news to get higher rankings than Fox News and MSNBC. In other words, CNN got where it is in February’s rankings the old-fashioned way. They earned it. But, don’t take my word for it. Review the list of most viewed videos above for yourself and come to your own conclusions.

Nevertheless, I’m confident that you’ll reach the same conclusion that I have: CNN’s video marketers have discovered the cure for marketing myopia. They’re not focused on cable TV, They’re focused on using video to report the latest news online as well as over cable and satellite TV. So, media mavens who only look at just their cable TV ratings are missing the rest of the story.


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