The decade's most triggering comedy
The Nielsen ratings for the second quarter of the year are in, and the message seems to be: If Fox News has a show on the air, viewers would rather watch it than anything on CNN.
CNN, whose year-on-year total day ratings increased 63% in the first quarter of 2021, fell to earth over the last three months.
CNN’s top-rated show, “Cuomo Prime Time,” finished 22nd in cable news, behind 14 Fox News shows and seven broadcast on MSNBC. The shows that beat CNN’s best-rated program include:
Only two of CNN’s shows — Cuomo’s 9 p.m. ET program and “Anderson Cooper 360” — cracked 1 million viewers during the second quarter of the year, which ran from March 29 to June 25.
CNN put the best possible construction on its ever-sliding rating by stating it had the greatest share of viewers between the ages of 25 and 54, the demographic most coveted by advertisers. “CNN continues to have the youngest audience in cable news,” the network trumpeted in an announcement titled “CNN Beats MSNBC in Prime Time, Total Day, Dayside and Weekends During 2Q in Demo.”
But “Tucker Carlson Tonight” became the top-rated cable news show among CNN’s targeted demographic, attracting 487,000 viewers in that age group. In all, seven of the top 10 cable news shows watched by the 25-54 demographic air on Fox News. MSNBC’s “Rachel Maddow Show” ranks fifth with the demo; CNN’s offerings ranked nine (“Anderson Cooper 360”) and tenth (“Cuomo Prime Time”), respectively.
Fox News could not resist chiding its rival network while noting its continued ratings dominance. “CNN’s viewership fell to new lows since the start of the year, notching its lowest-rated month in both categories in total day since July 2019, with 70 percent declines in both primetime and total day across the board as well as its lowest-rated primetime demo since August 2015,” said FNC in an official statement. “Of all news networks, CNN is down the most year to year, shedding more than half of its audience with both total day and primetime demo.”
MSNBC also piled on CNN, noting in a press release that, in all, 13 of its shows bested their CNN competitors in a head-to-head match:
The following shows topped CNN for the quarter in total viewer: “Way Too Early with Kasie Hunt” at 5am for the 15th straight quarter; “Stephanie Ruhle Reports’’ at 9am for the 18th straight quarter; “Hallie Jackson Reports” at 10am for the 17th straight quarter; “Craig Melvin Reports” at 11am for quarter; “Andrea Mitchell Reports” at 12pm for the quarter; “MTP Daily” at 1pm for the quarter; “Deadline: White House” from 4pm-6pm (“Deadline” was also #1 at 4pm among total viewers), topping CNN for the 16th straight quarter; “The Beat with Ari Melber” at 6pm for the 16th straight quarter; “The ReidOut” at 7pm for the 4th straight quarter; “All In with Chris Hayes” at 8pm for the 18th straight quarter; “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” at 10pm for the 24th straight quarter and “The 11th Hour with Brian Williams” at 11pm for the 19th straight quarter. On Saturdays, “VELSHI” from 8am-10am beat CNN for three of the last four quarters.
The takeaway: CNN thrived in the first quarter because of one event: the January 6 Capitol riot. Lacking a captivating national news story and devoid of compelling guests, the network continues to flounder.