Is cranberry cocktail the same as cranberry juice? Definitely not! The cocktail version is cranberry juice which is sweetened with loads of added sugar - which may be high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), cane or beet sugar.
Based on sugar content, cranberry cocktail is not much healthier for you than a Coke or Pepsi. Yes, there are antioxidants in the juice, but the amount of sugar in cranberry cocktail vs. soda pop is startling:
12 ounces of Coca Cola = 36 grams of sugar
12 ounces of Ocean Spray original cranberry cocktail = 42 grams of sugar
The difference between cranberry cocktail and 100% cranberry juice is that the latter is sweetened with other fruits rather than refined sugars. Apple, pear, and grape the most common used for blending.
Here is what the ingredients look like for Ocean Spray's cranberry concord grape: Grape and Concord Grape Juices (Water, Grape and Concord Juice Concentrates), Cranberry Juice (Water, Cranberry Juice Concentrate), Apple Juice (Water, Apple Juice Concentrate), Natural Flavors, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Fumaric Acid.
While it's true this is preferable to the HFCS sweetened versions, it's by no means low sugar nor is it diabetic friendly. Even in this version sweetened with added juices, the grams of sugar for an 8 ounce glass is 30 grams, or for a 12 ounce glass 45 grams (which is ironically even higher than the cane/beet sugar version).
Whichever version you get, it is true that they have antioxidants in them. The USDA did not specify the brand used for this test but one can presume it's most likely Ocean Spray and even if it isn't, the other brand (including generic) have very similar ingredient profiles. So how does the antioxidant (ORAC value) of this compare to others, such as orange or apple juice? Which is more nutritious? Both of those are lower at 703 and 414, respectively. But don't think that means cranberry is necessarily high, because it isn't relative to grape juice at 2,389 and the highest, black raspberry juice at 10,460.
USDA Database for the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) of Selected Foods, Release 2 - Prepared by Nutrient Data Laboratory, Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center (BHNRC), Agricultural Research Service (ARS), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) - May 2010