Unlike past major breaking news stories, coverage of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 over the past three weeks does not seem to have had much impact on cable news network consumer perception, with CNN and CNN Headline News actually drifting downward over the last three weeks.
Both CNN networks had been at, or close to, one year highs on consumer perception at the end of 2013, but both have been declining since the start of 2014, unstopped by the recent aggressive coverage of the lost air flight. Meanwhile, Fox News has remained steady and in positive territory. MSNBC ranks fourth out of the group.
CNN, CNN Headline News and MSNBC all track at negative consumer perception levels, which means there is more negative feedback about the brand than positive. Only Fox News Channel tracks with more positive than negative feedback.
Another challenge facing all of the cable news brands is that numbers of adults 18+ who report watching any of the four networks in the prior 30 days has been slipping for all of them.
CNN, CNN Headline News, Fox News Channel and MSNBC were measured with two of YouGov BrandIndex’s scores: Buzz ("If you've heard anything about the brand in the last two weeks, through advertising, news or word of mouth, was it positive or negative?"), and Current Customer (“Which of the following networks have you watched in the previous thirty days?). All respondents were age 18 and over.
YouGov BrandIndex’s Buzz scores range from 100 to -100 and compiled by subtracting negative feedback from positive. A zero score means equal positive and negative feedback.
On January 3, 2013, CNN’s Buzz score was -7. It rolled down to -17 by the end of May and then bounced back up to two peaks for last year:in early October, a -3 score, and then the same score again right at the start of 2014. Since that time, they have slid back down to -8.
CNN Headline News began 2013 at about the same point of as CNN, with a -8 Buzz score, and ran down to -14 at the end of May, a few points better than CNN at the time. In mid-January of this year, it hit a year-long peak of -2 and is now trending at -6, a couple of points ahead of CNN.
MSNBC’s Buzz score has been at a steady -10 since the beginning of 2014. Fox News Channel’s Buzz score has been hovering between 5 and 6 throughout March until now.