The new State Of The Media on cable news viewing habits just came out, and the results aren’t particularly positive for any of the big three cable news networks. Fox News is down eleven percent, CNN is down more than thirty percent and MSNBC, in last to begin with, saw a relatively small decline of five percent. The big question is why. Viewers are still flocking to cable in record numbers, but that carryover actually has seemed to harm the networks. Some will probably look at these numbers and call for a complete format alteration, but that seems like an overreaction at this point.

News in general has always been a rather cyclical game. People are inherently more interested when there’s either an election or an event they feel compelled to be informed about. These figures will rise steadily for the upcoming Presidential election and only then should any of the networks, particularly CNN, make decisions about their futures. It’s true the majority of viewers have roundly favored Fox News’ conservative slant, but CNN’s website is still a traffic bonanza. There will always be a place for down the middle journalism, but depending on how the market moves over the next year and a half, the network may need to scale back some of its inflated budget.

Most industries deal with this issue at some point. It’s only natural. A good idea is conceived, in this case a twenty-four hour news network, people embrace the concept, salaries are raised, new talent is brought in, everyone assumes it will only keep growing and then it hits a wall. Even with these down figures, all three networks should be making money. If they’re not, they need to trim the fat, not abandon what’s gotten them here.

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