CNN: Using Social to Win the News Wars



Here’s a fun fact: for 50 straight quarters, Fox News has been the most watched cable news channel in America. CNN, the original 24-hour cable news network, has languished behind Fox for some time now. In fact, CNN has gone so far as introducing non-traditional news programming like chef and author Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown,” a food-focused travel show, to compete with Fox.


However, while CNN lags behind Fox (and sometimes even MSNBC) on television, they are winning the war of digital and social news.


In fact, according to Alexa, cnn.com is the 19th most visited website in the United States, and the most popular website that specifically focuses on news (ahead of #20, Huffington Post.) Fox News is only the 41st most popular site in the U.S. CNN’s dominance in social is even more impressive. CNN has 13.8 million Twitter followers to Fox’s 4.18 million. They have 14.7 million Facebook followers to Fox’s 8.7 million.


Some of this difference can be chalked up to demographic difference. Fox’s base is older, and more likely to consume news from traditional sources like TV and print. CNN’s base aren’t exactly spring chickens but they do skew younger and tend to get their news from newer media, like social and websites.


CNN’s dominance online becomes particularly important when you consider that overall ratings for Cable News have been declining for years. Sure, Fox is winning the battle of TV, but they’re losing the war of social and digital news. This makes Fox a less appealing partner for advertisers who want to invest in younger demographics now, and down the road will make them an unappealing partner for advertisers looking to reach all demographics.


It seems like, as marketers, we’ve been saying “the future is digital” for 20 years. Well, the future is now, and brands that are still not investing in social and digital are going to reap the whirlwind, probably sooner rather than later.