Steep losses at CNN as cable ratings tumble in October

Like other cable news channels, CNN enjoyed huge ratings in the run-up to last year's presidential election. But the original 24-hour news channel seems to be doing less well than its more opinion-driven rivals now that Balloon Boy has replaced Barack Obama as the big story du jour.

As the October ratings period draws to a close, CNN is facing dizzying year-over-year drops in viewership for its prime-time shows, particularly in the age group advertisers target most avidly, adults 25 to 54. Its prime-time average in that demographic is down 78 percent versus October 2008, according to data from Nielsen Media Research. On a full-week basis, CNN is on pace to end up in a tie for third place with its own sister network, HLN, something that has yet to happen in 2009.