After the 1991 Gulf War — when CNN’s audience ballooned from its then-usual viewership of 400,000 to 5 million, and it was able to raise its normal 30-second ad rate from $3,500 to $20,000 — the cable channel learned to plan ahead for international crises.
Iraq earlier this month, CNN sales reps called advertisers and said: (1) Do you still want to be on the air if we’re at war? (2) If yes, would you like to buy more time? (3) If yes, we’ll give you an ”Instant News Rate,” a fixed rate per 1,000 viewers based on the Nielsen overnights.
CNN won’t say how much the ”Instant News Rate” is, but since viewership averaged 1.2 million (up from its now-normal 650,000) on the day of the first air strike, the network probably didn’t bomb.