A deeper look at CNN Digital’s latest numbers

By Matt Collins Article may include affiliate links

CNN Digital is touting key wins in the digital space, including multiplatform unique visitors, mobile unique visitors, video starts, social audience and politics — but as usual with ratings and audience reach data, the data can often be finagled in interesting ways.

  • CNN saw a larger audience reach than its competitors in January 2019 with 123 million unique visitors domestically, according to the network. But: Keep in mind this data is according to a “custom-created audience” using the Comscore Media Metrix Multi-Platform. This data also combines “multiplatform” visitors into one group.
  • January 2019 also marked the 18th month in a row of CNN sustaining an audience of more than 100 million unique visitors. But: Again, keep in mind this is a “multiplatform” total.
  • CNN.com itself scored 123 million unique visitors in the U.S. But: This figure is “based on CNN.com entity compared to a custom list of single brand competitors that are also in the News/Information Category.”
  • CNN topped its competitors in December 2018, the most recent data available, with 487 million multiplatform video starts making January the 44th straight month at the top. But: Keep in mind that CNN and other digital properties often “autoplay” videos when pages load, so this doesn’t necessarily mean the user initiated the video view or even watched the video. It also doesn’t measure engagement of how long the video was watched.
  • CNN’s mobile audience of 106 million mobile unique visitors surpassed its competitors in January 2019. But: Again, this data was based on a custom created dataset. According to CNN’s release, this appears to only include visits to CNN.com — but it’s not clear if that includes app usage.
  • CNN is also declaring its politics vertical to be the number one in unique visitors, multiplatform views and video since March of 2015. But: In this case, CNN is combining unique visitors, “multiplatform views” and “video.”
  • CNN has ranked as the number one U.S. news outlet in social audience for more than four years, with more fans and followers than any other competitor. CNN claims the top stop on Facebook with 48 million fans and 96 million follows on Twitter. But: This number, by CNN’s own admission, combines CNN and CNN International accounts. It’s also not clear if this differentiates between Facebook’s “like” and “follow” features.
  • On Instagram, CNN says it’s the most followed U.S. news brand, with 6.8 followers. But: In this case, CNN is only counting its “flagship” account and also using the category of “U.S. news brand” without outlining what that means.