Accuracy in Media

After just seven months, Erin Burnett, who was hired away from CNBC by CNN with much hoopla, has failed to meet expectations, much less the ratings of her predecessors.

Burnett’s show, Out Front, was launched in October, replacing the low-rated John King, USA. The show is a departure for Burnett who was known for her business reporting at CNBC, but she relished the opportunity to broaden her work.

The show, however, peaked in terms of ratings in November when it drew 510k Total Viewers and 140k viewers in the key A25-54 demo. Since then, the numbers have continued to slide to just 409k in Total Viewers and 113k in the demo in April. So far this month, the show is averaging 309k/78k respectively in total viewers and the demo.

That compares to John King, USA which averaged 523k/172k in April 2011.

This trend doesn’t bode well for CNN, which is coming off its worst ratings month in more than 10 years. If the early ratings for Burnett’s show in May are any indication, the network will hit another multi-year low when the ratings are released later this month.

Even though it has only been seven months since CNN launched Burnett’s program, her inability to build an audience has to be disturbing to CNN president Ken Jautz, who was hired in 2010 to try and duplicate the success he achieved at HLN.

After some promising ratings news in 2011, which was largely due to world events in Japan and the Middle East, the network seems to be settling back into third place behind Fox News and MSNBC, but losing even more ground at the same time.

If Burnett’s ratings continue to slide she may want to think about a backup plan, such as following former CNN anchor Lou Dobbs to Fox Business or returning to CNBC, before CNN brings the hammer down.

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