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King Charles Ratings Show Charles Barkley and Gayle King Matter to Key Demo

While being roundly defeated by other shows in the same timeslot, King Charles is garnering stronger numbers in the key 25-54 demographic.

Doug Pucci

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A photo of the King Charles logo

CNN’s new weekly program King Charles (a subtle nod to the newly-crowned ruler of the United Kingdom) was initially aimed for a huge promotional push, thanks to its high-profile hosts Gayle King (CBS Mornings) and Charles Barkley (Inside the NBA).

But CNN’s CEO Chris Licht, who spearheaded the show, got booted from the company in June last year and thus decreased the promos for his last project in King Charles.

The program eventually premiered on CNN on Nov. 29 in the 10 PM hour and debuted to 501,000 viewers including 139,000 within the key 25-54 demographic, according to Nielsen Media Research. While that total viewer figure certainly lagged behind its direct competition Fox News’ Gutfeld! [1.973 million viewers / 257,000 adults 25-54) and MSNBC’s Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell [1.621 million viewers / 132,000 adults 25-54), King Charles did top MSNBC in the key 25-54 demo.

The new program also earned a slight demo edge over MSNBC’s O’Donnell two weeks later (Dec. 13) — CNN King Charles 109,000 vs. MSNBC 106,000, although it got help from a CNN town hall with Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy (163,000 adults 25-54) that led into the program.

King Charles was moved up to the 9 PM hour on Dec. 6 due to CNN’s special post-GOP debate analysis at 10 PM. It was nearly 1 million viewers short of MSNBC’s Alex Wagner Tonight (466,000 vs. 1.429 million) but a mere 11,000 shy in the key 25-54 demo (115,000 vs. 126,000).

Across three weeks, King Charles has averaged 473,000 total viewers and 121,000 adults 25-54, based on live plus same-day data.

On Wednesday nights from Sep. 6 through Oct. 4 (but not counting Sep. 27 due to post-GOP debate analysis), CNN Primetime within the same 10 PM timeslot delivered 618,000 viewers including 138,000 within 25-54s; Wednesdays from Oct. 11 through Nov. 22 (not counting Oct. 25 that covered the mass shooting in the state of Maine nor Nov. 8 with post-GOP debate analysis), NewsNight with Abby Phillip posted 566,000 viewers and 147,000 adults 25-54.

In reaction to its premiere ratings, Barkley remarked on his podcast with fellow Inside the NBA host Ernie Johnson, “…these Nielsen people are the biggest clowns in the world. Name me one person you know with a Nielsen box?” He later ranted, “…there are a lot of systems in place that make no sense. The Nielsen’s are at the top of my list. But I really just want to tell my team…I just want to say thank you. And f*** those Nielsen people.”

It should be noted that Nielsen — the company to which almost every outlet and streaming service is subscribed to determine audience figures and set advertiser rates — has routinely tabulated terrific cable ratings for TNT’s Inside the NBA over the past three decades. And, at least King Charles has outdrawn Gayle King’s guest appearance on the popular basketball studio show promoting the program back on Apr. 22 (422,000 viewers), although that took place at an early Saturday time between 12:30 PM to 1 PM Eastern.

Cable news averages for December 11-17, 2023:

Total Day (Dec. 11-17 @ 6 a.m.-5:59 a.m.)

  • Fox News Channel: 1.163 million viewers; 124,000 adults 25-54
  • MSNBC: 0.748 million viewers; 71,000 adults 25-54
  • CNN: 0.420 million viewers; 73,000 adults 25-54
  • Newsmax: 0.161 million viewers; 9,000 adults 25-54
  • HLN: 0.138 million viewers; 38,000 adults 25-54
  • CNBC: 0.120 million viewers; 25,000 adults 25-54
  • Fox Business Network: 0.120 million viewers; 12,000 adults 25-54
  • The Weather Channel: 0.092 million viewers; 18,000 adults 25-54
  • NewsNation: 0.075 million viewers; 13,000 adults 25-54
  • Court TV: 0.051 million viewers; 16,000 adults 25-54

Top 10 most-watched cable news programs (and the top programs of other outlets with their respective associated ranks) in total viewers:

1. The Five (FOXNC, Mon. 12/11/2023 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.830 million viewers

2. The Five (FOXNC, Thu. 12/14/2023 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.802 million viewers

3. The Five (FOXNC, Wed. 12/13/2023 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.802 million viewers

4. The Five (FOXNC, Tue. 12/12/2023 5:28 PM, 32 min.) 2.783 million viewers

5. Jesse Watters Primetime (FOXNC, Wed. 12/13/2023 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.642 million viewers

6. The Five (FOXNC, Fri. 12/15/2023 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.622 million viewers

7. Sr/Biden-Zelenskyy Pc (FOXNC, Tue. 12/12/2023 5:01 PM, 27 min.) 2.453 million viewers

8. Jesse Watters Primetime (FOXNC, Tue. 12/12/2023 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.416 million viewers

9. Hannity (FOXNC, Wed. 12/13/2023 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.394 million viewers

10. Jesse Watters Primetime (FOXNC, Thu. 12/14/2023 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.340 million viewers

11. Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC, Mon. 12/11/2023 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.298 million viewers

157. The Lead with Jake Tapper (CNN, Fri. 12/15/2023 4:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.827 million viewers

166. Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO, Fri. 12/15/2023 10:01 PM, 60 min.) 0.771 million viewers

289. Trump Rally (NMX, Sat. 12/16/2023 2:00 PM, 90 min.) 0.502 million viewers

334. Last Week Tonight (HBO, Sun. 12/17/2023 11:01 PM, 39 min.) 0.407 million viewers

369. Varney & Company (FBN, Mon. 12/11/2023 10:00 AM, 60 min.) 0.360 million viewers

374. The Daily Show “Dec 12, 23 – Kal Penn” (CMDY, Tue. 12/12/2023 11:00 PM, 30 min.) 0.344 million viewers

414. Fast Money Halftime Report (CNBC, Mon. 12/11/2023 12:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.299 million viewers

448. Forensic Files (HLN, late Tue. 12/12/2023 1:00 AM, 30 min.) 0.269 million viewers

634. Weekend Recharge (TWC, Sat. 12/16/2023 10:00 AM, 60 min.) 0.190 million viewers

649. Cuomo (NWSN, Tue. 12/12/2023 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.185 million viewers

925. Court TV Live (COURT TV, Fri. 12/15/2023 11:00 AM, 240 min.) 0.105 million viewers

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

1. Gutfeld! (FOXNC, Wed. 12/13/2023 10:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.294 million adults 25-54

2. The Five (FOXNC, Tue. 12/12/2023 5:28 PM, 32 min.) 0.267 million adults 25-54

3. Jesse Watters Primetime (FOXNC, Wed. 12/13/2023 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.261 million adults 25-54

4. The Five (FOXNC, Mon. 12/11/2023 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.261 million adults 25-54

5. Gutfeld! (FOXNC, Tue. 12/12/2023 10:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.260 million adults 25-54

6. Hannity (FOXNC, Wed. 12/13/2023 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.256 million adults 25-54

7. The Five (FOXNC, Wed. 12/13/2023 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.250 million adults 25-54

8. Special Report/Biden-Zelenskyy Press Conference (FOXNC, Tue. 12/12/2023 5:01 PM, 27 min.) 0.248 million adults 25-54

9. Outnumbered (FOXNC, Mon. 12/11/2023 12:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.246 million adults 25-54

10. The Five (FOXNC, Thu. 12/14/2023 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.235 million adults 25-54

17. Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC, Mon. 12/11/2023 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.210 million adults 25-54

37. Anderson Cooper 360 (CNN, Wed. 12/13/2023 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.166 million adults 25-54

92. Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO, Fri. 12/15/2023 10:01 PM, 60 min.) 0.124 million adults 25-54

118. The Daily Show “Dec 12, 23 – Kal Penn” (CMDY, Tue. 12/12/2023 11:00 PM, 30 min.) 0.116 million adults 25-54

151. Forensic Files (HLN, late Fri. 12/15/2023 12:30 AM, 30 min.) 0.105 million adults 25-54

156. Last Week Tonight (HBO, Sun. 12/17/2023 11:01 PM, 39 min.) 0.105 million adults 25-54

410. Money Movers (CNBC, Thu. 12/14/2023 11:00 AM, 60 min.) 0.056 million adults 25-54

426. America’s Morning Headquarter (TWC, Tue. 12/12/2023 8:00 AM, 60 min.) 0.054 million adults 25-54

454. Trump Rally (NMX, Sat. 12/16/2023 2:00 PM, 90 min.) 0.051 million adults 25-54

528. NewsNation Prime (NWSN, Sat. 12/16/2023 7:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.044 million adults 25-54

596. Court TV Live (COURT TV, Fri. 12/15/2023 3:00 PM, 240 min.) 0.037 million adults 25-54

666. How America Works (FBN, late Tue. 12/12/2023 12:00 AM, 60 min.) 0.030 million adults 25-54

Source: Live+Same Day data, Nielsen Media Research

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BNM Writers

What to Do When Your Fear Your Media Career is Headed to the Graveyard

If you think about career death so much that it detracts from being in the moment, maybe it really is time to move on.

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A photo of a graveyard

“Do you guys ever think about dying?”

If you saw the Barbie movie, you know the line. Barbie is living the perfect and perfectly plastic life, perfectly choreographed and full of perfect smiles.

But the movie turns on that one line, basically shattering Barbie’s world with a concept no one there would ever have considered.

Death.

Why would you consider it when everything seemed in perfect order?

Well, when it comes to broadcasting and media, a lot of you think about dying … a lot. I do, too.

Of course, it’s not the stop breathing and get buried type of death but rather, the death of a career in media.

The truth is, when it comes to our business, very few people get to choose when it ends. Take a minute and consider a major media personality who truly “retired” after a multi-decade career.

It happens, but percentage-wise, it’s rare.

Take a minute and think. Name some. Name one. It’s not easy.

More often than not, you will get laid off or fired before you want to leave, and after a certain age, getting that next opportunity may be a bridge too far.

Then, you are done done.

That’s as much a music stopper as Barbie admitting she has considered her own mortality in the middle of the dance floor. Here on planet Earth, at least from the people in my orbit, the death of a media career often leads to even better professional options and more balanced lifestyle choices.

I have friends doing a million different things: Public relations, crisis management, content creation for large companies, political communications, fundraising, and teaching. Almost all of them tell me that it was such a stress relief to have a “normal” life, to not be worried about every pending contract or new boss.

Their work is appreciated. Their job is stable. And their schedule? Normal. Never has “normal” sounded so lovely than when they talk about watching shows with spouses, going out for a drink on a Tuesday, or having a regular pickleball game (or insert any middle-aged recreational sport).

I believe them.

Sort of.

The “sort of” comes from me not being able to actually envision that for myself. As enticing as it would be to see people on a more accessible schedule or play a weekly game with buddies, nothing beats talking and writing for a living. Nothing. And I am going to hang on until the lights are out, and we can’t pay to get them turned back on.

For me, I’m in too deep. I’m an indoor cat, incapable of survival outside.

Meetings. Deadlines. Reliant on other people. Meetings.

I’d be dead in a week. It’s beyond no, thank you. It’s, “I can’t”.

Sure, I have three teenagers and three college tuitions to pay. And two dogs. Two cars. And a mortgage.

Here’s where I am supposed to tell you that you should not only have thoughts about (career) death but also have a survival plan – a professional media-career living will if you would.

I should tell you that because you should.

But I don’t have one. And I don’t want one.

Why?

Because I don’t want to think about death anymore. I mean, I’ve already died twice. It wasn’t fun, and the third time most likely would be the charm in terms of getting me out of the business for good.

Why so stubborn? I don’t know.

Several times, I’ve said to myself, I need to make sure I have a backup plan … just in case. Each time, I find a reason not to get one.

Ultimately, what’s my point? Get a backup plan. Think about death. But it can’t take away from the essential joy of having the privilege of talking for a living. In that vein, don’t take it for granted. Ever. Even if the pay stinks and the schedule stinks. If you think about career death so much that it detracts from being in the moment, maybe it really is time to move on.

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BNM Writers

Is the Fairness Doctrine Even Possible in Today’s Media Landscape?

Is it right for media consumers to judge what is “fair” and what is “unfair” news?

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A photo of an equal scale

As many media outlets shutter their doors, some have clamored for the return of the Fairness Doctrine. Newsweek released the results of their new way to connect with readers, by asking if its reporting is “fair.” Since September 2023, readers were asked to judge stories on the site, 78% said the outlet is “fair.” Another 22% found at least one story they read to be “unfair.”

AllSides Media has judged Newsweek to be center. However, let’s not forget they are the same outlet that wrongly claimed President Donald Trump was golfing on Thanksgiving in 2019. As Sheryl Attkisson noted on Full Measure this week, on Thanksgiving in 2019 President Trump was visiting troops in Iraq and the Newsweek story was fabricated.

While the reader assessment of Newsweek’s content is on par with AllSides Media, is it right for readers to judge what is “fair” and what is “unfair” news? If outlets like The Daily Caller (Right) or Vox (Left) would ask the same of their readers, would their echo chamber subscribers find them “fair?” While historically print (and later digital) outlets could (and still can) embrace the political leanings of their owner(s), from 1949 till 1987 TV news had guidelines they must adhere to: The Fairness Doctrine.

Long before Americans argued about bias in news, every TV outlet (there were only three major ones at the time) would follow “The Fairness Doctrine.” The Reagan Library notes the doctrine was “enforced by the Federal Communications Council, [and] was rooted in the media world of 1949. Lawmakers became concerned that the monopoly audience control of the three main networks, NBC, ABC, and CBS, could misuse their broadcast licenses to set a biased public agenda.”

To put it simply, the Fairness Doctrine made it so all sides of any story were presented. In 1985, under the Reagan Administration, the FCC found “the doctrine hurt the public interest and violated free speech rights guaranteed by the First Amendment.” Two years later, a panel under FCC Chairman Dennis Patrick repealed the Fairness Doctrine unanimously.

Keep in mind, at this point in time, CNN was the first and only 24-hour news network in the United States (it launched on June 1, 1980). Fox News wouldn’t be launched until almost 10 years after the Fairness Doctrine was repealed, on October 7, 1996.

Also happening at this time, large corporations (with lobbying power) were buying media outlets. General Electric purchased NBC in 1986. Westinghouse acquired CBS in 1995. One year later, ABC was bought by Disney. These purchases did not go unnoticed. Saturday Night Live even mocked the acquisitions in a now-banned short called “Conspiracy Theory Rock!: Media-opoly.”

The unwillingness of news organizations to cover both sides of a story has led to the creation of biased outlets including: CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, OAN, Newsmax, and others. None of these would be able to exist in their current form if the Fairness Doctrine wasn’t repealed.

News outlets that aren’t overtly biased use another trick to manipulate their viewers/readers, using emotionally charged verbiage. AllSides Media defines sensationalist words as presenting information in a way that gives a shock or makes a deep impression. This includes words like “shocking”, “heart-breaking”, “explosive”, “scathing”, “chaotic”, “desperate”, and “remarkable”… this list goes on but you’ve seen and heard these words from the news outlets daily. This is the media telling you how to react to a story instead of letting you determine how you actually feel after they present the facts of the story.

Today, what’s most concerning are outlets saying ‘fair and balanced’ news is a disservice to the public. An August 2023 NPR article explored just this, saying “Objectivity actually comes from an accurate examination of facts (actions, documentation, and even educated opinions) presented in transparent reports. Often, that coverage should also encourage audiences to examine supporting evidence for themselves.”

The problem with this is three-fold:

  • Selective fact presentation develops a one-sided narrative
  • An “educated opinion” is not a fact. It’s an opinion that is neither right nor wrong.
  • It is impossible for human beings to be completely unbiased (see January 31st column)

While it’s great Newsweek is asking readers if their reporting is ‘fair’ is the reader’s judgment neutral, or just as biased as the outlet they prefer to read? Sometimes when we are clicking to satisfy our own confirmation bias it’s hard to tell.

What the media and all Americans need to start recognizing is their own echo chamber. Knowing we all have some sort of bias is not a flaw but what makes us human. Our flaw is the inability to recognize our bias yet call out others for being biased just because they are on the other side of an issue.

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CNN Sees Biggest Viewership Jump During Super Bowl Parade Shooting Coverage

All news outlets spiked upon live breaking news coverage with Fox News — already the weekday afternoon leader in cable news — leading in total viewers.

Doug Pucci

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A photo of the CNN logo
(Photo: Getty Images)

The cable news outlets got increased viewership from two different news events during the week of Feb. 12, namely the shooting at the Super Bowl parade in Kansas City.

On Wednesday, Feb. 14, of the mass shooting at the Super Bowl celebration parade in Kansas City for the Chiefs football team. One person died and roughly two dozen others were injured.

All news outlets spiked upon live breaking news coverage with Fox News — already the weekday afternoon leader in cable news — leading in total viewers.

The following are what each network drew as the story unfolded on that Feb. 14 afternoon from Kansas City and how it grew from the same Wednesday time slots from Jan. 3 thru Feb. 7:

Fox News Channel

  • 3-4 p.m.: 1.656 million viewers (+18 percent)
  • 4-5 p.m.: 1.873 million viewers (+34 percent)
  • 5-6 p.m.: 3.175 million viewers (+7 percent)
  • 6-7 p.m.: 2.441 million viewers (+12 percent)
  • 7-8 p.m.: 2.250 million viewers (+4 percent)

MSNBC

  • 3-4 p.m.: 1.008 million viewers (+10 percent)
  • 4-6 p.m.: 1.504 million viewers (+7 percent)
  • 6-7 p.m.: 1.763 million viewers (+17 percent)
  • 7-8 p.m.: 1.474 million viewers (+13 percent)

CNN

  • 3-4 p.m.: 0.762 million viewers (+27 percent)
  • 4-5 p.m.: 0.913 million viewers (+35 percent)
  • 5-6 p.m.: 1.007 million viewers (+28 percent)
  • 6-7 p.m.: 0.985 million viewers (+43 percent)
  • 7-8 p.m.: 0.960 million viewers (+29 percent)

Newsmax

  • 4-5 p.m.: 0.343 million viewers (+23 percent)
  • 5-6 p.m.: 0.354 million viewers (+16 percent)
  • 7-8 p.m.: 0.547 million viewers (+13 percent)

Earlier in the week, on Tuesday, Feb. 13, the results were announced for the special election race for New York’s third congressional district between its former representative Democrat Tom Suozzi and Republican challenger Mazi Pilip. Suozzi left office in 2022 to run in the New York gubernatorial election but lost out to incumbent Kathy Hochul. Suozzi’s successor in Congress was the infamous George Santos who was officially expelled from office on Dec. 1, 2023 over charges of federal criminal laws including campaign finance fraud.

MSNBC and CNN were the only major national news outlets that provided live coverage of the special election results, stressing the significance of Suozzi’s eight-point win over Pilip as it reduced the GOP’s advantage in the House of Representatives by one.

From when the voting polls closed in New York at 9 p.m. ET, MSNBC easily topped CNN in total viewers at 9 p.m. (1.616 million viewers vs. CNN’s 0.847 million), 10 p.m. (1.903 million vs. CNN’s 0.879 million), 11 p.m. (1.112 million vs. CNN’s 0.541 million), and at midnight (774,000 viewers vs. CNN’s 299,000).

From 9-11 p.m. ET, though, both MSNBC and CNN scored the same performance among the key 25-54 demographic: a 0.15 rating at 9 p.m. and a 0.18 rating at 10 p.m. (Note: a 1.0 rating in 25-54 equates to 1.21 million viewers within the aforementioned age range.) 

For the 10-11 p.m. hour, when the New York candidate speeches had aired, CNN grew by 68 percent (in viewers) and by 80 percent (in 25-54) from its Tuesday 10-11 p.m. hour output from Jan. 2 thru Feb. 6 — a time period that included a Ron DeSantis town hall and New Hampshire primary results.

MSNBC was up as well at 10 p.m. hour — +16 percent in viewers, +33 percent in the 25-54 demo — using the same reference parameters.

Even though Fox News did not offer live coverage of New York’s special election results, Hannity at 9 p.m. (2.528 million viewers; 0.21 A25-54 demo rating) and Gutfeld! at 10 p. m. (2.357 million viewers; 0.31 A25-54 demo rating) still held the top spots in their respective hours on all of cable news.

Source: Nielsen Media Research

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