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Hurricane Ida Coverage Boosts Ratings For The Weather Channel

The Weather Channel has seen increased attention in August which marks the annual start of hurricane season.

Doug Pucci

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The Weather Channel

The two biggest news stories of the week — one global and one domestic — dominated the cable landscape for the week ending Aug. 29.

With live breaking news coverage in the wake of the deadly explosions at Afghanistan’s Kabul airport from Thursday, Aug. 26, Fox News Channel widened its lead over its cable competition. Their most-watched hour was 5-6 p.m. ET when President Biden addressed the bombing, averaging 5.85 million total viewers and 1.16 million within the key adults 25-54 demographic, according to Nielsen Media Research. CNN merely eclipsed MSNBC in total viewers (1.78 million vs. 1.74 million), but had the clearer advantage in 25-54 (407,000 vs. 216,000). Note: MSNBC’s figures were only from 5:24-5:54 p.m. ET.

As for coverage of the day’s other briefings from Washington, D.C., also from Aug. 26:

The Pentagon

  • Fox News (3:00-4:00 p.m. ET): 3.552 million viewers; 711,000 adults 25-54
  • CNN (3:00-4:00 p.m. ET): 1.569 million viewers; 308,000 adults 25-54
  • MSNBC (3:00-3:27 p.m. ET): 1.122 million viewers; 182,000 adults 25-54

The White House

  • Fox News (6:00-7:00 p.m. ET): 4.237 million viewers; 833,000 adults 25-54
  • CNN (6:00-7:00 p.m. ET): 1.490 million viewers; 388,000 adults 25-54
  • MSNBC (6:08-6:48 p.m. ET): 1.435 million viewers; 210,000 adults 25-54

In the prime time window, Fox News not only continued to lead the cable news networks, averaging 4.7 million viewers and 946,000 A25-54 from 8-11 p.m. on Aug. 26, but also bested the broadcast networks in each key ratings category. In addition, Afghanistan coverage has boosted Fox News to be the No. 1 network in total viewers in all of television in weeknight prime time (Monday thru Friday) for the second consecutive week. For Aug. 23-27, averaged 3.46 million total viewers, beating NBC (2.96 million), CBS (2.56 million) and ABC (2.51 million).

The Weather Channel has seen increased attention in August which marks the annual start of hurricane season. This past week, the network reached its zenith for the year, to date, due to the tracking of Hurricane Ida which ultimately made landfall in New Orleans and other neighboring Louisiana towns on Sunday, Aug. 29 — the exact date of the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and its devastation upon the same region. The Category-4 storm knocked out power to several cities and caused massive flooding; the peak of its effects (from 5-6 p.m. ET on Aug. 29) ranked as the week’s sixth-largest cable news telecast in adults 25-54 delivery (718,000 viewers within the demo). While Ida has encompassed the vast majority of coverage, The Weather Channel has also focused on the fires of Northern California which have raged for the past three weeks and have turned the normally pristine atmosphere of resort town Lake Tahoe into an ashy landscape with a blood-red sky. Nearly 700 homes have been destroyed.

Here are the cable news averages for August 23-29, 2021.

Total Day (August 23-29 @ 6 a.m.-5:59 a.m.)

  • Fox News Channel: 1.864 million viewers; 333,000 adults 25-54
  • MSNBC: 0.792 million viewers; 101,000 adults 25-54
  • CNN: 0.753 million viewers; 168,000 adults 25-54
  • The Weather Channel: 0.402 million viewers; 100,000 adults 25-54
  • HLN: 0.196 million viewers; 64,000 adults 25-54
  • Newsmax: 0.160 million viewers; 26,000 adults 25-54
  • CNBC: 0.134 million viewers; 33,000 adults 25-54
  • Fox Business Network: 0.092 million viewers; 11,000 adults 25-54

Prime Time (August 23-28 @ 8-11 p.m.; August 29 @ 7-11 p.m.)

  • Fox News Channel: 3.104 million viewers; 537,000 adults 25-54
  • MSNBC: 1.411 million viewers; 185,000 adults 25-54
  • CNN: 0.962 million viewers; 231,000 adults 25-54
  • The Weather Channel: 0.471 million viewers; 130,000 adults 25-54
  • HLN: 0.228 million viewers; 75,000 adults 25-54
  • CNBC: 0.187 million viewers; 60,000 adults 25-54
  • Newsmax: 0.172 million viewers; 32,000 adults 25-54
  • Fox Business Network: 0.057 million viewers; 7,000 adults 25-54

Top 10 most-watched cable news programs (and the top MSNBC, The Weather Channel and CNN programs with their respective associated ranks) in total viewers:

1. The Five (FOXNC, Thu. 8/26/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 5.850 million viewers

2. Hannity (FOXNC, Thu. 8/26/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 5.445 million viewers

3. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Thu. 8/26/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 4.992 million viewers

4. Special Report with Bret Baier (FOXNC, Thu. 8/26/2021 6:00 PM, 60 min.) 4.237 million viewers

5. The Five (FOXNC, Tue. 8/24/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 4.165 million viewers

6. The Ingraham Angle (FOXNC, Thu. 8/26/2021 10:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.750 million viewers

7. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Wed. 8/25/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.711 million viewers

8. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Mon. 8/23/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.697 million viewers

9. The Five (FOXNC, Fri. 8/27/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.694 million viewers

10. Fox News Primetime (FOXNC, Thu. 8/26/2021 7:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.653 million viewers

32. Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC, Thu. 8/26/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.565 million viewers

34. Weather Channel Live “Live Coverage: Tracking Ida” (TWC, Sun. 8/29/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.543 million viewers

109. The Lead With Jake Tapper (CNN, Thu. 8/26/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 1.784 million viewers

Top 10 cable news programs (and the top  CNN and MSNBC programs with their respective associated ranks) among adults 25-54:

1. The Five (FOXNC, Thu. 8/26/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 1.160 million adults 25-54

2. Hannity (FOXNC, Thu. 8/26/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 1.094 million adults 25-54

3. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Thu. 8/26/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.958 million adults 25-54

4. Special Report with Bret Baier (FOXNC, Thu. 8/26/2021 6:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.833 million adults 25-54

5. The Ingraham Angle (FOXNC, Thu. 8/26/2021 10:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.785 million adults 25-54

6. Weather Channel Live “Live Coverage: Tracking Ida” (TWC, Sun. 8/29/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.718 million adults 25-54

7. The Story (FOXNC, Thu. 8/26/2021 3:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.711 million adults 25-54

8. Fox News Primetime (FOXNC, Thu. 8/26/2021 7:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.682 million adults 25-54

9. Your World with Neil Cavuto (FOXNC, Thu. 8/26/2021 4:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.682 million adults 25-54

10. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Mon. 8/23/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.668 million adults 25-54

55. The Lead With Jake Tapper (CNN, Thu. 8/26/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.407 million adults 25-54

66. Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC, Thu. 8/26/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.390 million adults 25-54

Source: Live+Same Day data, Nielsen Media Research

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Telling The Audience What You Think They Want to Hear Won’t Help You Grow

“Calling out each candidate’s positives and negatives isn’t picking one over the other, it’s opining on the news of the day.”

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Photo Credit: iStock

It’s OK to not always tell your audience what you think they want to hear. 

I have been writing that phrase down at the top of my notepad before I start my show for the last two weeks. Something tells me I will need it for at least another 12 months.

In the last week alone there have been two major topics that have divided News Talk audiences across the country: The debt-ceiling debate and the brewing Donald Trump vs. Ron DeSantis feud.

And as I’ve listened to talented hosts and perused the social media landscape, I’ve noticed a hesitancy that I usually would not expect. 

Granted, for the last two years it’s been relatively easy when talking about the national political scene: Joe Biden is a disaster. Whether it’s economic policy, border policy or foreign policy, most Americans don’t believe the guy is doing a good job. The News Talk audience, generally speaking, thinks he’s doing a terrible job.

That’s shooting fish in a barrel. But now comes the hard(er) work. 

Starting with the debt-ceiling drama, there was a big divide amongst Republicans in the House of Representatives. The bill passed with broad bipartisan support, however dozens of Republicans, many of the most conservative members of the House, voted against the bill, saying it did not do enough to cut spending

As a result, it seemed many hosts, who assume their audience blindly aligns with everything the most-conservative members of the House say, were hesitant to point out the obvious: Explain what better deal you were getting when you only had a small majority in the House, and no control over the Senate or the White House?

It was a question I never got a good answer to on my show.

Republicans already picked up a win getting Biden to the negotiating table after he spent months saying he wanted a clean debt-ceiling raise with no spending cuts attached. Speaker Kevin McCarthy won, got some concessions, and slowly began turning the tide towards hopefully Senate and White House victories in 2024, when then the real work can begin on getting spending under control. This was a victory.

And while no one with any levels of fiscal sanity believes our government’s spending isn’t wildly out of control, that is a separate conversation from whether or not this was a good or smart deal. 

Then, there’s the Trump vs. DeSantis feud. Some have staked their claim with one candidate over the other. Some are trying to toe the line and avoid all conflict. Neither approach makes sense to me.

The obvious approach seems to me to analyze the candidate’s based on what they do and say on a given day. There will be good and bad days for Trump. DeSantis will have his up and down moments. I can guarantee this because they’re flawed human beings like the rest of us.Like every election season, it will ebb and flow, and eventually someone will come out on top.

Calling out each candidate’s positives and negatives isn’t picking one over the other, it’s opining on the news of the day.

If you compare this to sports talk radio, a national host talking about the NFL Playoffs doesn’t have to have a preferred team, but he or she has to have something to say that’s interesting, compelling, honest, thought-provoking and entertaining.

If they don’t do this, they’ll become wallpaper in a world of too many media options. 

If you have the trust of your audience, you’re real, honest, engaging and thoughtful, you won’t lose your audience. You’ll keep them engaged and you’ll grow it.

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Why Did Newsmax Allow Rep. Matt Gaetz to Host An Unchallenged TV Program?

“A sitting politician hosting a show also doesn’t allow for a variety of opinion. It gives them the ability to deceive their audience, delude their constituents and impact lives in the name of lies.”

Jessie Karangu

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Photo Credit: Newsmax

Representing your constituents in Congress used to be a mark of honor. It was a position that came with pride and respect. At least that’s what I’ve heard from older relatives who lived in an America that was supposedly more united. Today, depending on the individual, the position doesn’t usually come with too much regard if any at all. Congress has an all-time low approval rating and many representatives go into the job plotting their next money-making move in the process. 

The cable news circuit has slowly but surely built a bench of potential hosts from current and former Congressmen. Former Congressman Jason Chaffetz is a Fox News commentator, Trey Gowdy is a host on Fox News, Joe Scarborough is MSNBC’s morning show anchor and most recently Rep. Matt Gaetz anchored his own hour for Newsmax. As much as some members of Congress roast young Gen Zers for their tenacity when it comes to TikTok, these men are just as eager for the wrong kind of attention and spotlight. 

A former Congressman on television can provide perspective that gives context to current issues the country faces. On Scarborough’s morning show, he often harkens back to past negotiations and talks he had with fellow lawmakers. At times, he even uses those connections to find out the inside scoop about something that’s happening in the moment. Current Congressmen who appear on shows as guests also get to talk directly to their constituents hopefully alongside a host that is willing to challenge them on the issues of the day and not simply allow them to lead the audience astray. 

For Newsmax to allow Rep. Gaetz to host a show though, is a disgrace to a medium of television that already like Congress doesn’t have much acclaim. With that being said, even for cable news, this is a major low and it should never happen on either side of the aisle. Politicians are elected to serve but are also forced to make tough decisions. These choices are answerable to the American people. When a Congressman is allowed to spew their thoughts uncensored, it takes attention away from the issues that really matter. 

A sitting politician hosting a show also doesn’t allow for a variety of opinion. It gives them the ability to deceive their audience, delude their constituents and impact lives in the name of lies. Unless Gaetz had a co-host that was a journalist questioning his takes, how does an unchallenged show truly serve the public – an oath he agreed to partake in when he took on his role as a Congressman. 

Gaetz’s appearance is also a waste of tax dollars. The people of Florida who elected him into office expect Gaetz to be working with fellow lawmakers to make their lives better. They expect him to be doing research or reading up on bills that can bring the change he’s promised to his voters. Instead, he used the resources of hard-working Floridians to moonlight into his next career and spew misinformation that can prove harmful to the public.

If we allow more serving Congressmen to host their own cable talk shows on such a widely distributed platform, will we reach a day when lawmakers exclusively negotiate bills on television? Will Congressmen be more worried about ratings than results? We’ve already seen what happens when a President reigns over a populous and only rules based on what he sees on television. We’ve also seen the political implications that come with such unjustly behavior. Cable news networks will suffer the moral consequences of their actions while politicians who dare to try this act again will eventually face the demise of their legacy in the voting booth. Be careful.

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Sales Productivity Protects You From Hedge Fund Uncertainty

“The good news is that most radio station clusters are still very profitable. The bad news, the debt makes many clusters unprofitable.”

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Almost 30 years ago, Radio station ownership limits were lifted, and Wall Street saw an opportunity. But the hedge funds didn’t understand the business and created mayhem in a still vital industry.

I worked in New York City for over 6 years. I had the opportunity to spend time around the brain trust of Wall Street. These Masters of the Universe saw the weakness of the radio industry and thought that they had all the answers. 

Well, they didn’t. 

I will give you some history from my perspective. My first 16 years were spent working for family run operations. Both of these companies were managed by third generation operators who put people and community first. These were highly successful operations with large staffs. 

I am not looking back with rose colored glasses. No organization is perfect or without unique challenges. But people were first in these broadcast companies. Both of my first employers had top consultants to give strong outside the organization feedback. Both companies had General Managers that catered to both the programming and sales departments. 

The Telecommunications Act of 1996 was the biggest overhaul of telecommunications law in 62 years. It was widely thought that this would bring radio into modern times. Consolidation has been a landmark of American Business, so, Wall Street’s Hedge Funds saw an opening.  Radio station owners sold for insane profits. Longtime owners were able to sell stations for multiples of up to 30 times meaning that if an owner had a station earning 1 million dollars, they could sell it for 30 million dollars. Quite a return (Most stations didn’t go that high but multiples of 18-25 were very common during this period).  

Wall Street looked at radio like the pickle industry. Except there was an issue. Radio did not have hundreds of workers in each location. You couldn’t move all operations to a central hub and save HUGE money, that would justify strong ROI. So, radio ended up with several large owners (by the way, I am not criticizing iHeart, Audacy, Cumulus and the other large owners). 

When larger companies developed, they went public selling stock to individual shareholders and institutional investors. The market states that companies show a certain amount of revenue growth per year. Let’s say that number is 10%. Radio is interesting, we are regulated by the Federal Communications Commission. You cannot just build new radio stations. So, companies were forced to merge or expand to meet revenue goals. Wall Street encouraged and even demanded it. 

Here was the problem – radio companies acquired an unsupportable amount of debt that could never be paid back. The Hedge Funds just moved cash around and demanded companies cut staff and consolidate management. It was a blood bath. Any of us who entered this business in the 90’s saw this. Great broadcasters, salespeople, managers were forced out because of unsustainable debt and micromanaging Hedge Funds.  

On the local level, new clusters were forced to protect the biggest biller in the group. This was not set to grow revenue; it was to protect the revenue and keep the spreadsheets looking right. I know of stations that were more successful brands in ratings in a cluster than the cash cow but if you were the Program Director who was consistently beating the cash cow, your job was in jeopardy.  This was a reverse hunger games caused by debt, fear and shortsightedness. 

So, here we are.

The good news is that most radio station clusters are still very profitable. 

The bad news, the debt makes many clusters unprofitable.

Even though a couple of the bigger companies have gone bankrupt, they’re not bankruptcy situations where assets were liquidated creating a market-based value of these properties. It was essentially a negotiation to lower the debt, and did not move these companies to become cash positive operations again. 

Why do the Hedge Funds not cut their losses and move on? Now that is a great question.  Hedge funds handle billions of dollars. They bundle bad deals with great deals and so their investors don’t seem to have a problem if they see enough of a profit at the end of the month, quarter or year. People remember the subprime mortgage crisis of 2008. Hedge Funds were bundling bad mortgages with good ones. Soon the bad overcame the market. Thus, a crash.  The homes never went away. The value of real estate fell dramatically in many places.

Are people still listening to us? 80% of Americans do. Not the 93% of a decade or so ago (Pew Research). This is much better than local TV where only 63% of Americans watch local TV News.

But what is the future?

It is entirely up to Hedge Fund involvement. Will Hedge Funds cut their losses and move on?  If that occurs, will local broadcasters rise again? 

What can YOU do?

It is all about the billing. If you are billing a lot more than you cost, the company will need you, and indispensability is what corporate leaders will see. Make yourself available for Sales. If you are the morning talent, be dressed well enough for a sales call. Make yourself available a few times each week to meet clients. Let salespeople know about the products and services that you use. Radio personalities are influencers. They have huge audiences that listen every day.  Don’t forget your advantage. We cannot control the Hedge Funds, corporate debt or a fast-changing marketplace. 

This was not an exhaustive history, but it illustrates our challenges. Radio programming departments are filled with creative people who just want to entertain. Be aware of our weaknesses and strengths. The Market Manager and sales manager are under huge pressure.  Be that person who understands their concerns.

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