The first full week of the Biden administration, while not without its breaking news moments, perhaps provided a glimpse at the future state of cable news amidst some sense of normalcy back at the White House. The three major cable news stations still were cable’s most-watched networks of the week (ending Jan. 31), but their ranking order somewhat reverted back to pre-election status.
Fox News Channel returned to its reign in prime time among total viewers, averaging 2.62 million at night, according to Nielsen Media Research. “Tucker Carlson Tonight” was tops among all cable news programs for the week in adults 25-54 (avg. 585,000 for Jan. 25-29). In total viewers, it averaged 3.50 million. Fox News’ Saturday night lineup of “Watters’ World” (2.18 million viewers), “Justice with Judge Jeanine” (2.13 million) and “The Greg Gutfeld Show” (1.99 million) featured the three most-watched cable news programs of the weekend (Jan. 30-31, 2021).
MSNBC was cable’s most-watched network in total day (6 a.m. to 5:59 a.m.) with an average of 1.381 million viewers. This was a slight increase from the last time the network was No. 1 on all of cable back on Nov. 30-Dec. 6, 2020 (1.34 million). “The Rachel Maddow Show” was not only cable news’ top program for the week in total viewers (avg. 3.77 million) but in addition, all five of its weeknight editions ranked as the week’s five most-watched cable news telecasts overall. On Monday, Jan. 25 when congressional members of the House had delivered the impeachment articles to the Senate, in preparation for the upcoming second impeachment trial of Donald Trump, MSNBC led in cable coverage with 2.78 million viewers within the 7-8 p.m. ET hour (CNN was runner-up with 2.45 million; Fox News, with host Maria Bartiromo and a focus on Biden and his relationship with China drew 1.88 million).
CNN, the top cable news station since Election Day 2020, tumbled more than one-third in total viewers and nearly half in adults 25-54 from the previous week. Despite the steep declines, CNN still topped Fox News and MSNBC in the key 25-54 demographic.
Here are the cable news prime time averages for Jan. 25-31, 2021:
Total Day (6 a.m.-5:59 a.m.)
- MSNBC: 1.381 million viewers; 209,000 adults 25-54
- Fox News Channel: 1.323 million viewers; 227,000 adults 25-54
- CNN: 1.287 million viewers; 327,000 adults 25-54
Prime Time (Jan. 25-30 @ 8-11 p.m.; Jan. 31 @ 7-11 p.m.)
- Fox News Channel: 2.622 million viewers; 422,000 adults 25-54
- MSNBC: 2.302 million viewers; 339,000 adults 25-54
- CNN: 1.814 million viewers; 468,000 adults 25-54
Top 10 most-watched cable news programs (and the top CNN program and its associated rank) in total viewers:
1. Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC, Mon. 1/25/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.984 million viewers
2. Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC, Wed. 1/27/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.742 million viewers
3. Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC, Tue. 1/26/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.717 million viewers
4. Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC, Fri. 1/29/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.716 million viewers
5. Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC, Thu. 1/28/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.706 million viewers
6. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Mon. 1/25/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.588 million viewers
7. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Tue. 1/26/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.584 million viewers
8. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Wed. 1/27/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.579 million viewers
9. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Thu. 1/28/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.568 million viewers
10. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Fri. 1/29/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.193 million viewers
30. Erin Burnett Outfront (CNN, Mon. 1/25/2021 6:50 PM, 70 min.) 2.453 million viewers
Top 10 cable news programs among adults 25-54:
1. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Tue. 1/26/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.664 million adults 25-54
2. Cuomo Prime Time (CNN, Mon. 1/25/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.654 million adults 25-54
3. CNN Newsroom (CNN, Mon. 1/25/2021 3:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.614 million adults 25-54
4. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Mon. 1/25/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.610 million adults 25-54
5. Erin Burnett Outfront (CNN, Mon. 1/25/2021 6:50 PM, 70 min.) 0.608 million adults 25-54
6. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Thu. 1/28/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.606 million adults 25-54
7. Cuomo Prime Time (CNN, Thu. 1/28/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.602 million adults 25-54
8. Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC, Tue. 1/26/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.599 million adults 25-54
9. Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC, Wed. 1/27/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.588 million adults 25-54
10. Anderson Cooper 360 (CNN, Mon. 1/25/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.584 million adults 25-54
Source: Live+Same Day data, Nielsen Media Research
Douglas Pucci is a Bronx native and NYU graduate analyzing news television ratings for Barrett News Media. He did an internship at VH1’s “Pop Up Video” in 1997. After college, Pucci went on to design, build and maintain websites for various non-profit organizations in his hometown of New York City. He has worked alongside media industry observer Marc Berman for over a decade reporting on all things television, first at Cross MediaWorks from 2011-15 then at Programming Insider since 2016. Pucci also contributed to the sports website Awful Announcing. Read more: https://programminginsider.com/author/douglas/
A News/Talk Radio Autopsy After the BNM Summit
The news/talk audience is getting older. This is somewhat self-inflicted. We are still doing our shows in the same template Rush Limbaugh innovated in 1987. Time to change it up.
After the inaugural BNM Summit, I was more excited about our industry after the two-day event. Radio in many ways is a solitary pursuit.
Teamwork is sometimes not a factor in a morning show with a cast. You walk into the studio, put on the headphones, turn on the mic and go. I needed some excitement, some good news, and the chance to meet new friends and renew longtime relationships. I got it.
As an industry, we have been pummeled by bad headlines: some of which are self-inflicted, and some are challenges for our future. If you believe the headlines, smelting lead would be a better career choice. I don’t believe that, and you shouldn’t either. While smelting lead seems like an exciting career other than the whole lead poisoning thing, perhaps that is better than radio station break room coffee.
Have you ever considered how bad radio station coffee is? I don’t drink it. I drink a pot of my own before I strut into the office. Perhaps, it is time to call any reputable health inspector in to inspect that thicker than tar swill.
Radio is a terrific profession. How many jobs provide more laughs than broadcasting? It is fun. I have worked a bit outside the radio industry. Real-world jobs suck. Our stations develop awesome advertising campaigns for clients. Why not us? We don’t publicize our strengths. Podcasts are great, but when did a podcast raise money for the local foster children? When did a podcast show up at a client’s office with a smile and donuts? TikTok? Those Chinese Communist bastards are poisoning our kids. YouTube? Cool content, but the Google-owned platform is as likely to build commonalities with your neighbors as a lion is likely to lay down with a lamb.
Radio is a cool job. One where you can make a difference. It’s not exactly like Mother Theresa…. but it’s better than being an influencer on Instagram.
I am ranting.
You know who I am sick of? The radio coroner gang. Radio still reaches a majority of the American public. Your local big network TV affiliates may reach less than 40% of the public. They are no longer a big deal. Don’t give them any respect. Those jerks don’t deserve it, except for that pretty reporter who would be lucky to be my next wife. I know that I am old enough to be her dad, but hey, old dudes need love, too.
Radio is vital and needed. Radio needs to look itself in the mirror and say “We are essential”. I was in the room in Nashville with men and women who see a future. The BNM Summit delivered that.
By the way, the brother and sisterhood at the BNM Summit was strong. I haven’t been hugged this much since a family reunion. I wish that you could have been there. It was amazing. I really was pumped up. We matter. You matter. Your ideas are important.
We have challenges. We need to address issues with Gen Z and the generations to follow them. Radio does have issues with innovation. We run the same clocks that we did in 1970. We sweep the corners, which is stupid and does not reflect actual radio listening. If you are in a PPM market and are sweeping the corners, reevaluate your tune-ins per hour. Look at that carefully. So, your host comes out of the break at :27, and news is at “30. I guarantee your tune-out rate is through the roof.
You need 5 minutes of continuous listening to get credit. A listener is as likely to start listening at 23 minutes past the hour than almost any other time. Yet, we still sweep the corners. It’s insane. You may not like PPM. It is a fair assessment, but adapt or die. We have not adapted to PPM and radio has been using this technology for well over a decade.
The news/talk audience is getting older. This is somewhat self-inflicted. We are still doing our shows in the same template Rush Limbaugh innovated in 1987. Time to change it up. PPM gives us tools. If you delight in being a political insider, you are going to demo old. Go to a political event. It is geezer-rific. Talk about the interests of a 45-year-old. You can beat this. You have the tools, you have the data, and you have the talent.
I was watching a YouTube video on East St. Louis. That city in Illinois is now one of the most violent places in the USA. It was not always that way. East St. Louis was once a vibrant community with a bustling downtown, strong industry, and a great future. The community got complacent, and the employers started to leave. The city was not focused on growing and it has become a shell of the great place it was at one time.
Radio needs to look at that. What is next? Where is the innovation? How do we change the momentum? It’s all up to us. There are thought leaders in our industry reading this. These are brilliant people. I don’t claim to have the answers, but I know where we need to focus.
Being in the room with amazing leaders in the radio industry brought me more excitement. The BNM Summit was exactly what I needed. I could not be more enthusiastic about our future. Am I naïve? Perhaps. Do I understand the power of radio? Absolutely.
The power is in your hands. May every moment on your radio station essential.
Peter Wilkinson Thiele is a weekly columnist for Barrett News Media. He currently serves as the program director, and morning host of Newstalk KZRG in Joplin, MO. Additionally, Peter has held programming roles in New York City, San Francisco, Little Rock, Greenville and Hunstville. He has also worked as a host, account executive and producer in Minneapolis, and San Antonio. You can reach him on Twitter at @PeterThiele.
Who Cares Who Owns ABC?
Does the audience care who owns their network, their news outlets, and a handful of affiliates?
Fans of sports franchises usually have a love-hate relationship with the owners of their respective teams, especially when those owners are well-known or tend to make a bella figura of themselves in the news cycles.
Going back, think about George Steinbrenner, the Rooney and Mara families, and certainly Mark Cuban of late. These relationships and reputations are generally well earned and often well-deserved based upon an individual’s public behavior, comments as well as the day-to-day operations and success of the teams themselves.
The same goes for I expect other areas of business, be they owned by Elon Musk, Richard Branson, or that guy from Amazon.
We might even drink some gin or tequila because Ryan Reynolds or George Clooney owned a piece of the company.
In these cases, I think it’s fair to say that public interest and investment in who owns or at least controls an entity is a reasonable point of concern and curiosity.
I mean, come on, Las Vegas was certainly more fun when the mob ran the casinos. I haven’t read any bestsellers or seen any blockbuster movies lately about Steve Wynn, Ballys, or MGM. Season 2 of the day-to-day escapades of VICI Properties isn’t dropping soon on Netflix, is it?
What’s he driving at already?
Good question and here’s the answer:
ABC is in the news these days because at least a couple of different people, groups, or entities are talking about acquiring it all from Disney.
Well, not all as I’ve been reading, nobody seems to be much interested in the radio properties.
If you want me to play on your team, you have to take my little brother, too.
That’s my take anyway.
Discussion of a possible sale of ABC is not new, at least it’s not in my memory and I’m not sure exactly why all the renewed interest is stirring and rising to the top. I remember working there in the early 2000s and the saying was, “ABC is always on the block if the price is right.”
That’s true of everything, I suppose.
So, what I’ve read so far is that Nexstar and the Allen Media Group have either expressed interest or have initiated talks while Disney is apparently retreating from any kind of confirmation that they’re selling.
Meanwhile, take a look at The New York Post or Fox News reports and you’ll be told that everyone is freaking out at ABC and the subject of a sale is all anyone there can talk about, to paraphrase the published quotes.
Wow, we have dramatization based on rumor now.
Look, to the employees of ABC and its properties, who they are owned by and who they report to will always be of interest and concern. That’s natural and certainly reasonable. A sense of uneasiness in the workplace is rarely good for business while stirrings of change may have an impact at a corporate or even shareholder level.
Check the market activity for ABC and Nexstar in the last few days.
I asked recently if anyone on the outside really cares who is running CNN as long as they’re getting the product they want.
I have to ask a similar question here:
Does the audience care who owns their network, their news outlets, and a handful of affiliates? Even under a new ownership flag, a radical shift in formats, personnel, and ideals is hardly likely, especially for the more popular platforms and programs.
The general public may be more familiar with ABC ownership because of the Disney brand, as opposed to Comcast owning NBC and Paramount controlling CBS. I also think the days of everyone putting the Murdoch name and the Fox brand together in the same sentence have slipped considerably.
Despite being the backbone of all areas of product and operations, the names of producers, managers, and owners are not often visible to the public at large. It’s the faces in front of the camera, to a lesser degree the voices behind the microphone, and even less sadly, the names on bylines that the audience knows and feels impacted and served by.
So, if Kraft Heinz, Exxon Mobil, or Charles Schwab suddenly take seats at the ABC/Disney bidding table it’s not likely any of the GMA viewers are going to notice.
Bill Zito has devoted most of his work efforts to broadcast news since 1999. He made the career switch after serving a dozen years as a police officer on both coasts. Splitting the time between Radio and TV, he’s worked for ABC News and Fox News, News 12 New York , The Weather Channel and KIRO and KOMO in Seattle. He writes, edits and anchors for Audacy’s WTIC-AM in Hartford and lives in New England. You can find him on Twitter @BillZitoNEWS.
Charly Arnolt Found a Home at OutKick
“I appreciate approaching things from an honest and authentic standpoint, and I think a lot of people appreciate that, too. That’s why OutKick is so successful.”
OutKick personality Charly Arnolt is in her element right now. Following her departure from ESPN, Arnolt has settled in with one of the country’s most popular digital media brands. She realizes that to continue to grow in the industry, she needs to strengthen the relationships she has already established.
As a young reporter in Indianapolis, she honed her on-air presentation and writing skills while covering local sports and news. Those opportunities led to bigger ones.
Earlier this year, she left ESPN, as she was bored with talking strictly about sports and knew she wanted to explore beyond the limits of that platform. That’s when she discovered OutKick, a brand encouraging its talent to speak their minds and creating a place where pop culture, sports, news, and politics intersect.
Charly Arnolt balances her new role with her ongoing commitment as a host and reporter for the UFC, demonstrating her unwavering dedication to delivering top-notch sports content.
Before joining OutKick, she spent nearly five years at ESPN, leaving her mark as a multi-platform host and reporter. Her contributions extended across ESPN’s flagship programs, including First Take and SportsCenter. She also graced the screens of ESPN+’s weekday morning show, SportsNation.
The way the media portrays the 2024 Presidential Election will be unprecedented. Donald Trump, the former President, has been indicted four times, two times on the federal level and twice in state courts. Conservative media must navigate how to address the misconception that news broadcasted on their platforms is fake. Charly Arnolt and her colleagues at OutKick will play a significant role in capturing the attention of young and impressionable voters who might notice their First Amendment rights eroding.
Charly Arnolt is worried about her country, the same country that gave her the right to earn her way to the top of the media industry. She takes her right to freedom of speech seriously and wishes that the other GOP Presidential candidates would drop out of the race and support Donald Trump.
Arnolt wants to clarify that her intentions are sometimes misunderstood. In the past, some people have mistakenly believed that her current actions contradict her previous statements. However, she disagrees with those who label her as hateful. Charly Arnolt acknowledges that specific subsets of people pose a dangerous threat and must be stopped and spoken out against.
Specifically, she is against people who try to indoctrinate and brainwash children. Charly Arnolt reiterates that just because she speaks out against certain things doesn’t mean she has hatred in her heart.
During an interview with Barrett News Media, Charly Arnolt discusses the success of OutKick and shares insights on individuals who have influenced her storytelling style and career. She also reveals who she would love to sit down and have dinner with and how she developed a well-rounded passion for sports, pop culture, news, and politics.
Ryan Hedrick: What factors have contributed to the success of OutKick?
Charly Arnolt: OutKick talks about news from a straight perspective. If there’s a detail that certain versions of the media are leaving out that would align with their own agenda, OutKick doesn’t see it that way. If something is glaring, and there’s a detail that helps to tell the story, you’ll be able to find those details on OutKick.
I appreciate approaching things from an honest and authentic standpoint, and I think a lot of people appreciate that, too. That’s why OutKick is so successful.
RH: You recently interviewed Dave Portnoy, the owner of Barstool Sports. What misconceptions does the media have about him?
CA: We all have different opinions; that’s how the world works, and you should be able to voice your own opinions. If you don’t like what someone says, you don’t have to follow or listen to them. I don’t understand why people are always trying to silence each other; just move on. We don’t all have to be on the same page here.
I think what Dave does fabulously is he hears all the people screaming, he hears all the criticism, and not only does he ignore it, but that fuels him.
RH: When did you realize you could talk and wanted to talk about sports and news?
CA: I have always been like that. I’m the girl who always had so many different interests. I can talk sports with the guys and then can turn around and tell you what happened with Keeping Up With the Kardashians in the season finale. I am a versatile person regarding the things I am interested in and the things I can talk about.
I love having the ability to talk about different things because I got bored being at ESPN and talking about sports all the time. Sports are fun, but there are so many other things that are important in this world that I think are more important than sports in a lot of cases.
Sports are great; they are a fabulous escape from our everyday lives because there’s a lot of stuff going on in the world that is very burdensome, but it is a lot of that burdensome stuff that needs to be talked about; otherwise, we are going to find ourselves in an even deeper hole than we are right now as a country.
I like getting into those more intellectual discussions and having a platform where I can pivot so quickly from sports, news, politics, and pop culture and interject my opinion into all those different areas.
RH: What can you tell me about the culture at ESPN?
CA: ESPN is a great place as far as the content that they put out. Obviously, they are a powerhouse. I don’t think I would describe ESPN as being different from any other media organization. It’s standard the way that it’s run. There are the big fish and the small fish, and I think you have to understand the lane you need to stay in if you want to get to the top and what’s expected of you. But that’s not anything that’s unique to ESPN.
I’m sure if you went to NBC Sports or FOX Sports, it’s all run pretty similarly. I just think that we can all agree that ESPN takes a more liberal approach to how it does its reporting rather than allowing a debate to air on the more conservative side as far as politics go.
CA: Already from day one, Dana White (UFC’s CEO) was on my show as a guest. Obviously, he’s my boss at UFC. It makes me feel very special and really shows me that I am doing something right when I can call up Dana White and say, ‘Hey, would you be the first guest on my show?’ He told me, ‘Anything for me.’ That is probably the biggest compliment I could be paid regarding the relationship-building I have been doing so far in my career.
That’s something I hope to continue is just forging more relationships, whether in the world of sports or in politics. I had Senator Tommy Tuberville the other day. He is a fabulous interview. I’m going to be having Ken Paxton on later this week. (Texas Attorney General who was acquitted last week in an impeachment trial before the state Senate. He was accused of abusing his office to protect a political donor).
There are so many different people who will be guests on the show, which will make it so much more interesting. I am so excited to have the opportunity to talk to them on a platform where they want to come on and talk to me about different topics.
Additionally, we are going to be getting into stories that you just won’t get anywhere else. I am hoping over the course of time that, I can create a show where people know that they’re coming for something different, and that’s the reason they want to come because they know they are going to pick up something or hear about something, that they wouldn’t hear or talked about anywhere else.
RH: Are there any broadcasters whose work inspires or motivates you?
CA: Joe Rogan really inspires me. When you listen to his show, I think you hear things talked about that you just don’t hear about anywhere else. He pushes the envelope, he pushes the limit, and I find that to be very motivating and inspiring, and I would like to bring a semblance of that into my OutKick show as well.
RH: What role does great storytelling play in your job as a host on OutKick?
Charly Arnolt: You have to do your research. There is so much clickbait out there these days, where you see something that seems sensational, but then you delve a little bit into it, and maybe there’s something there, or maybe it’s been sensationalized on the surface, and it’s not worthy of a spot in the show.
I think if you do your research and at the core, even if you want to be interesting and compelling, you have to remember that you are a journalist, and you want to make sure what you’re saying is factual, and even if you can put your own opinion on top of it, you still have to have facts. I think that the most important key is remembering not to say anything that’s incorrect, even though it might be able to attract more people.
RH: Has one person or brand influenced your personality and commentator style at OutKick?
CA: There are a few different people. I think being able to work under a guy like Dana White in the UFC, who is so unapologetically himself and who has used his resources in the platform he’s given to extend past the world and now he’s become a cultural icon as well. I would say being around him and how he uses his platform to help and drive the conversation in a very important way has been critical.
Coming to OutKick gave me the ability to do some stuff for Fox News. Never in my life would I have imagined that I would’ve gone from ESPN, which oppresses political standpoints, views, and opinions, to being on an ultra-political platform like Fox News, where they welcome the things you have to say.
Every little step of my journey has culminated in what has really played to my strengths. I have always been into lots of different kinds of subject matters. I’ve always been into sports, news, business, and politics. I didn’t have the platform to voice my opinion on these very different areas until now. I have finally come into a space where I can take everything that I’ve learned so far in my career and life and bring it into one thought and deliver something special.
RH: Is there anybody you haven’t met yet that you would love to sit down with, learn from, and talk to?
Charly Arnolt: I would love to sit down with Elon Musk because I think that he is so important in every aspect of the world right now. He is one of the people who has the resources and the platform, and the money to help save this country. That’s the direction that he’s trying to take things in. He bought Twitter for a reason, he didn’t just buy X to take over the platform and have some fun, he bought it to preserve free speech. He is one of the most unapologetically authentic people you can encounter.
Even just looking at the things that he’s willing to speak out on X. The conversation that he helps to nurture and drive. The fact that he’s also willing to give people platforms on X who otherwise would not have the platforms to say the things that they believe and that’s also important because it is helping to bring back a healthy debate in conversation in a world for just a couple of years ago, we were seeing a lot of that free speech suppressed because it didn’t align with the political agenda of our country which is really sad and ultimately will take us to a devastating place.
Ryan Hedrick works for WIBC in Indianapolis as a Morning News Anchor/Digital Content Producer. Prior to moving to Indy, he served as Assistant Program Director and Co-Host of the Morning News Express at WFMD. His career also includes stints at News Talk 103.7 FM in Chambersburg, PA, Sirius XM in Washington D.C., WBEN in Buffalo, NY, and WIBW-AM in Topeka KS where he earned the Kansas Association of Broadcasters (KAB) award for Major Market enterprise reporting in 2016. To connect with Ryan, find him on Twitter @SureToCover.