On Wednesday, May 5, Fox News Channel’s “Hannity” captured a rare demo win for the day in cable news — an achievement usually earned by Sean Hannity’s lead-in “Tucker Carlson Tonight”.
Sean Hannity hosted a sit-down interview with Caitlyn Jenner, the once-Olympic gold medalist track and field star, ex-spouse of Kris Kardashian and parent to Kendall and Kylie Jenner. Caitlyn Jenner is a Republican candidate for Governor of California, with the hopes to dethroning incumbent Governor Gavin Newsom. During the hour, she expressed her approval of the former President being a “disrupter” in Washington, D.C. and disagreed with “anything [current President] Biden has done” since taking office.
Among the key adults 25-54 demographic, according to Nielsen Media Research, “Hannity” scored 477,000 viewers. That figure edged past his Carlson lead-in (462,000) and topped his time slot completion, MSNBC’s “Rachel Maddow Show” (380,000). Also, those marks were the week’s respective bests for the 9 p.m. Fox News and MSNBC programs.
For total viewers, however, “Tucker Carlson Tonight” (2.913 million) was tops on May 5 while the aforementioned “Hannity” (2.835 million) was runner-up. These ranking positions of the two programs in the ratings have become increasingly familiar in recent months, as Carlson’s stature has risen in conservative media in the post-Trump era. So much of Carlson’s ascendance has been apparent that it was even closely dissected by HBO’s Jon Oliver in the March 14th edition of his Sunday night news satire “Last Week Tonight.”
CNN’s media observer Brian Stelter indicated, in his daily Reliable Sources newsletter, that Carlson also topped Hannity in online mentions over the past year. According to research company IQ Media, from November 1, 2020, to April 28, 2021, Carlson was mentioned in the online press 39,481 times. Hannity was mentioned by comparison 29,877 times.
Here are the cable news averages for May 3-9, 2021 — the total viewer figures for Fox News and MSNBC were cable’s two best marks for the week in total day and prime time; CNN, despite its programs not among the week’s 100 most-watched cable news telecasts, managed to rank fourth on all of cable in each category:
Total Day (May 3-9 @ 6 a.m.-5:59 a.m.)
- Fox News Channel: 1.171 million viewers; 202,000 adults 25-54
- MSNBC: 0.850 million viewers
- CNN: 0.617 million viewers
Prime Time (May 3-8 @ 8-11 p.m.; May 9 @ 7-11 p.m.)
- Fox News Channel: 2.161 million viewers; 343,000 adults 25-54
- MSNBC: 1.502 million viewers
- CNN: 0.941 million viewers
Top 10 most-watched cable news programs (and the top CNN program with its associated rank) in total viewers:
1. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Mon. 5/3/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.081 million viewers
2. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Tue. 5/4/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.988 million viewers
3. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Wed. 5/5/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.913 million viewers
4. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Thu. 5/6/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.853 million viewers
5. Hannity (FOXNC, Wed. 5/5/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.835 million viewers
6. Hannity (FOXNC, Mon. 5/3/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.834 million viewers
7. Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC, Thu. 5/6/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.756 million viewers
8. Hannity (FOXNC, Tue. 5/4/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.748 million viewers
9. The Five (FOXNC, Mon. 5/3/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.738 million viewers
10. Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC, Tue. 5/4/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.719 million viewers
102. Cuomo Prime Time (CNN, Wed. 5/5/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 1.221 million viewers
Top 10 cable news programs (and the top MSNBC and CNN programs with their respective associated ranks) among adults 25-54:
1. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Tue. 5/4/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.517 million adults 25-54
2. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Mon. 5/3/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.494 million adults 25-54
3. Hannity (FOXNC, Wed. 5/5/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.472 million adults 25-54
4. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Wed. 5/5/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.462 million adults 25-54
5. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Thu. 5/6/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.452 million adults 25-54
6. Hannity (FOXNC, Mon. 5/3/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.448 million adults 25-54
7. Hannity (FOXNC, Thu. 5/6/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.446 million adults 25-54
8. Hannity (FOXNC, Tue. 5/4/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.431 million adults 25-54
9. The Five (FOXNC, Tue. 5/4/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.426 million adults 25-54
10. The Five (FOXNC, Mon. 5/3/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.423 million adults 25-54
12. Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC, Wed. 5/5/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.380 million adults 25-54
35. Erin Burnett Outfront (CNN, Wed. 5/5/2021 7:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.283 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/
The Latest Example of How to Not Produce a Debate
If there is a blueprint on how not to put on a debate, it was Wednesday evening.
As if it couldn’t get any worse, it did. For the first time since it’s been my job to watch a Presidential debate for a living, I turned one off. After 82 minutes (9:22 p.m. CST, not that I was watching the clock or anything), I had enough. I couldn’t subject myself to the torture that became the second GOP Presidential debate on Wednesday night from the Reagan Library.
If there is a blueprint on how not to put on a debate, it was Wednesday evening, and there are multiple reasons why, beyond the usual bemoaning of “the candidates won’t stop talking over each other.”
The debate was overproduced. In the opening there were videos of Reagan (nice and well done, don’t get me wrong), each anchor had various lines they were reading between each other, which felt forced and unnatural, and as a result, it took over three minutes from the opening of a debate to a candidate finally speaking.
I understand TV isn’t radio, but in a PPM world, imagine taking three minutes to get to your content, when people are tuned in at that moment to consume the content you’ve been hyping up and promising for weeks. Time is a zero-sum game. Every minute a candidate is not speaking, because a moderator is, or a pre-produced piece is playing, can’t be gotten back.
Give people what they came for. A 15-second welcome, a 60-second introduction of the candidates, if that, and dive into the questions is a 90-second process. Keep these things moving and give the viewers what they came for. And that’s the candidates.
The debate lacked direction and clarity. Anchors spent far too much time asking long-winded questions with ridiculous and unnecessary details. As a viewer, it came across like the anchors were trying to impress us, rather than asking a question, getting out of the way, and letting the candidates — you know, the people running for President — try to impress us. They’re the ones who I want to be impressed by because they’re the ones we’re being asked to vote for.
Also, the topic direction had little flow and was disjointed. On certain topics, only one to three candidates would get to answer questions on the issue. I’ve laid out the case for keeping the flow of a debate and moving it along, but only giving half the stage the chance to answer questions on the most pressing issues in the country is a disservice to the voter who is there to here what everyone had to say.
At one point in the debate, Chris Christie was asked about a looming government shutdown, which was followed by a childcare cost question to Tim Scott and then it was an immigration/dreamers question back to Chris Christie. And that was in a five to seven minute span. Huh?
Rather than finding the six to seven big topics and diving into them with each candidate, while letting the candidates then organically and respectfully spar, it was like watching an ADD-riddled teen try and bounce between topics with no clarity or purpose.
And Yes, the Candidates
Of course, there were plenty of these moments that typically derail debates, notably primary debates, where multiple people are talking over each other and no one is willing to give in to be the first one to shut up. Then, the debate begins to inevitably sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher and suddenly the obnoxious noise even makes your dog look at you and wonder what in the hell you’re watching.
There were too many candidates on stage and then the moderators also ended up losing control, like what happened last go around.
But as I wrote last month, this debate format is a broken system. But for some reason, we keep doing the same thing and expecting a different result.
Ronald Reagan was rolling over in his grave watching that debacle last night. It’s too bad he’s not still here to try and help fix it.
Pete Mundo is the morning show host and program director for KCMO in Kansas City. Previously, he was a fill-in host nationally on FOX News Radio and CBS Sports Radio, while anchoring for WFAN, WCBS News Radio 880, and Bloomberg Radio. Pete was also the sports and news director for Omni Media Group at K-1O1/Z-92 in Woodward, Oklahoma. He’s also the owner of the Big 12-focused digital media outlet Heartland College Sports. To interact, find him on Twitter @PeteMundo.
3 Ideas to Turn CNN Max Into a Streaming News Juggernaut
The last thing CNN needs to do is to have CNN Max hiding in plain sight.
It is so easy to find a gamut of stories and opinion pieces within the past year or two criticizing many different aspects of CNN and the way it operates. Many of those evaluations have been absolutely fair.
Now though, it is time to give CNN credit where it is due.
This week marked the launch of CNN Max and it has been as seamless as a fresh glazed donut coming straight out of the oven. The stream’s video quality is crisp. Commercials are inserted properly. Most of the exclusive programming feels exactly like something you would see on linear CNN.
But the most fascinating thing Warner Bros. Discovery has been able to pull off is the ability to stream most of the same programming that airs on domestic CNN via Max. It is a stroke of business genius and puts the company and network ahead of its counterparts when it comes to offering a quality streaming alternative. As has been mentioned in the past, the network has been able to bypass MVPDs and stream their primetime anchors without permission from cable operators because CNN Max is mostly a direct simulcast of CNN International which airs U.S. programming live overnight while Europeans are in bed.
Despite the successful launch, there are still some tweaks that could improve the product exponentially. One major benefit would be to have replays of programs that viewers may have missed from earlier in the day. Each show on serves a specific purpose and although similar coverage of news is told throughout the day, each anchor has a unique way of stringing the narrative together. Viewers deserve to get the chance to see how a story develops throughout different parts of the day and see specific segments in its entirety that may not get clipped for social media.
Viewers also need a chance to fully sample CNN Max’s exclusive programming and at the moment, if you don’t watch it live you’ve missed it forever.
Speaking of clips, it’s important for highlights of the day to be available quickly within the Max ecosystem. On CNN Max’s first day, Kasie Hunt scored an exclusive interview with Sen. Joe Manchin that made headlines.
Unfortunately, the only way a viewer could see it if they missed it live was if they scoured the network’s website for it or waited for a clip that the social media team would eventually put out. Part of being a modern-day news organization requires accessibility to be at its best at any given time of the day.
If viewers have a difficult time finding out the major highlights of what’s been on air, it may be harder to convince them to try a new product.
Viewers also deserve the opportunity to subscribe to alerts. News breaks on a consistent basis and unless you’re scrolling through your social media feed all day 24/7, it is almost impossible to follow everything that’s happening. Max needs to provide an option for specific types of alerts dealing with breaking news or major storylines that have developed live on air on CNN Max with the option to tune in now or to see clips or full episodes that deal with a specific headline. Alerts will increase engagement and maintain a relationship with the consumer they may not be able to get at another major entertainment app that streams similar programming as Max.
Promotion within the app is also important. While Max did an awesome job of showcasing the various shows that are live at any point during the day, it used the same graphics of the same hosts with the same descriptions every day. Viewers who read promos on entertainment apps are used to seeing different plot lines and convincing pictures showcased once a week whenever a new episode of their favorite show is ready for viewing. Max needs to treat news stories in the same fashion.
As stories break throughout the day, Max needs to promote their live programming with information blurbs containing new developments and questions that viewers might get answered by tuning in. Show previews could also promote featured guests. Using the same stale graphic of a host, show name, and generic show description will eventually become stale and annoying for viewers. Viewers will unfortunately train their minds to ignore the static messaging.
Warner Bros. Discovery also needs to take advantage of CNN Max’s predecessor. CNN Plus was able to maintain a decent amount of followers on social media – at least 35,000 on Twitter. Turn that page into a promotion spot for CNN Max that aggregates clips, promos, and previews of what viewers can expect on Max or what they may have missed.
As the brand develops a presence on social media, it will also develop name recognition among future cord-cutters who are deciding between Max and other services. The last thing CNN needs to do is to have CNN Max hiding in plain sight. CNN Max can be additive to cable ratings if people have an understanding of where and how to access it.
CNN Max is creating a direct relationship between the consumer and CNN. It’s a relationship that has always had a middleman. Unfortunately for the cable industry, the middleman is slowly dissipating away.
With this newfound bond, the network should take advantage of the digital real estate it has access to and create real interaction with viewers. Optional polls, factoids, written descriptions of stories on screen, or even biographies of the guests on air at any given time could provide viewers with an extra reason to stay tuned in. It keeps viewers occupied and helps elongate the amount of time viewers spend on the stream and the app as a whole.
Jessie Karangu is a weekly columnist for BNM, and graduate of the University of Maryland with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland but comes from Kenyan roots. Jessie has had a passion for news and sports media and the world of television since he was a child. His career has included stints with USA Today, Tegna, Sinclair Broadcast Group and Sightline Media. He also previously wrote a weekly column for our sports media brand, Barrett Sports Media. Jessie can be found on Twitter @JMKTVShow.
Re-Watch The 2023 BNM Summit, On Demand Tickets Are Now Available
“If you weren’t able to make it to Nashville for the 2023 BNM Summit, I invite you to purchase an on-demand ticket to watch the show. The cost is just $49.99.”
When one of our Summits ends, it’s over for the attendees and speakers. The work is far from done though for yours truly. After packing up a SUV and driving home, the immediate focus turns to posting photos, gathering video of the sessions, sending out final invoices, making sure all ads on our websites and newsletters promoting the conference are updated, adding watermarks to the video footage to support our sponsor, editing clips for social, and then building a web page for folks to be able to go re-watch the show.
It’s a mountain of work and I dive head first into it because I want to make sure that anyone who attends one of our shows has an opportunity to catch a session they may have missed or go back and re-watch a speaker to make sure they have the right information before passing it along to help an individual or entire staff.
When you buy a ticket to one of our shows, I try to provide maximum value. You get an action packed two-day event featuring difference makers in various roles across the industry, access to multiple parties including free drinks, and a FREE on demand ticket to re-watch the show. The ticket price itself is also kept lower than many other events because I’d rather see folks in the room benefitting than worrying about whether or not we crushed our revenue goals. I don’t create these conferences to keep myself busy, boost my ego or get rich. I run them to try and improve the media business. It isn’t easy especially given how reluctant many radio folks are to get out of their buildings and routines to learn something new but someone has to try.
There’s an old Benjamin Franklin quote that I’ve loved and adopted over the years, which says “an investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” That’s what our conferences are about. We discuss opportunities and challenges and have open and candid conversations with smart people, share information, and provide examples that have hit and/or missed because the goal is to make improvements, and you can’t do that without deeper inspection.
With that said, if you weren’t able to make it to Nashville for the 2023 BNM Summit, I invite you to purchase an on demand ticket to watch the show. The cost is $49.99. Just click HERE to sign up. Once you press the Subscribe button down below, it will take you to the next page to enter your information to gain access. Those who attended the Summit have already received instructions on how to watch the show for FREE.
We will return with a 2024 conference in either Chicago, Dallas, New York City or Washington DC. Given that next year is an election year and we’ve got one of these shows under our belts now, I’m sure the next event will be even bigger, and better. If you’d like to vote on where the 2024 BNM Summit should take place, log on to BNMSummit.com. You should see the poll question just below our main section.
Thanks again for supporting the show. Until next time, may your revenue and ratings continue to rise.
Jason Barrett is the owner and operator of Barrett Media. Prior to launching BM, he served as a sports radio programmer, launching brands such as 95.7 The Game in San Francisco and 101 ESPN in St. Louis. He has also produced national shows for ESPN Radio including GameNight and the Dan Patrick Show. You can find him on Twitter @SportsRadioPD or reach him by email at [email protected].