On Monday night, CNN broadcast an interview with Vice President Kamala Harris in primetime. You might normally expect an interview with the Veep in the heat of an election year to draw some eyeballs, but once the ratings reports came out we learned that wasn’t the case at all. The broadcast’s ratings weren’t simply lower than expected. They were simply abysmal. The interview only averaged 332,000 in total viewers and just 72,000 in the coveted 25-54 demographic. We hear plenty of jokes these days about the majority of CNN’s audience being located in airport waiting areas, but I’m fairly sure there were more than 72,000 adults in the nation’s airports Monday night.
We can’t place the blame entirely on Kamala, however. CNN’s ratings for the entire week were down across the board. As the NY Post reveals, they were beaten out by a network I’d never even heard of that was showing a rerun of an old western movie. They couldn’t even muster much of an audience to watch the returns from the Iowa caucuses or the New Hampshire primary.
Ratings-challenged CNN’s total viewership in prime time last week lagged behind the History Channel and an obscure cable network — founded by televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker — that plays Western TV shows and films, according to the latest figures released by Nielsen.
The “most trusted name in news” — which recently hired former New York Times and BBC boss Mark Thompson as its CEO — had an average of 538,000 nightly viewers in the 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. block during the seven-day period from Jan. 15 until Jan. 21, according to the most recent data compiled by Nielsen.
The weak ratings were generated despite coverage of the Iowa caucus, which saw former President Donald Trump easily rout GOP contenders in his bid to regain the White House.
Like most of the country, I didn’t watch the interview with Kamala. But I dug it up online after seeing the ratings to find out what we all missed. (You can watch it here on YouTube if you wish.) She was interviewed by Laura Coates who decided to conduct the session while walking around together in what looked like a garage for some reason. I scanned through it a bit and on the plus side, I didn’t see Harris breaking out any Venn diagrams. But she definitely worked in a fair bit of her signature cackling. The conversation was mainly about abortion, no doubt because that’s pretty much the only thing that she and Biden have to run on this year.
Getting back to the ratings, the week was simply a washout for CNN, particularly in prime time. In terms of average ratings overall, they lost to the History Channel, Hallmark, and an obscure network founded by Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker that shows old westerns. It’s not as if nobody was watching the news all week. For the week of January 15-21, Fox News averaged 2.09 million viewers nightly. That’s very close to four times the number of people watching CNN during the same period. Even MSNBC nearly doubled CNN’s viewership, netting slightly more than one million people on average, finishing third in the ratings for the week behind Fox News and Disney.
You have to wonder how satisfied the network is at this point with their decision to fire Chris Licht in favor of Mark Thompson. Granted, Licht hadn’t produced much in the way of ratings either, but he also wasn’t given all that much time (14 months) to rebrand and rebuild. All the talk we heard about CNN being determined to get back to straight, hard news coverage and away from heavily biased (almost entirely liberal) commentary and “analysis” has evaporated. I have CNN on in our den pretty much every day while I work, even though I keep it muted. You still rarely see a Republican on there unless it’s a never-Trumper willing to bash the former President. They’re also refusing to cover or cutting away from Trump’s speeches following the primary contests, following in the footsteps of Rachel Maddow and MSNBC. You’d think they would have learned by now that Trump delivers ratings.
We recently found out that CNN has assigned Virginia Moseley to run the newsroom. She has built a reputation as a “tyrant” who has “absolutely no people skills.” Will she be able to right the ship at CNN and get the network’s ratings back above water? What could possibly go wrong? On the plus side, it’s not as if they could sink much further. They’ll always have the airports.