The Trump town hall event initially seemed successful for CNN, attracting over 3 million viewers and briefly surpassing Fox as the leading cable channel. However, the aftermath revealed a different story.
CNN’s ratings plummeted to an eight-year low, trailing behind MSNBC and Newsmax. Overall viewership, especially the 25 to 54 demographic, experienced a significant double-digit decline. In contrast, MSNBC’s viewership surged by 44% since Licht took over.
CNN’s broad accessibility extends to cable TV packages and popular streaming services like Sling TV, Hulu with Live TV, and YouTube TV. As of February 2023, CNN had 80 million subscribers in US television households. Newsmax, launched in 2014, reached 35 million satellite subscribers through DirecTV and Dish Network. By May 2019, Newsmax was available in approximately 75 million cable homes and had a strong online presence.
Newsmax’s ratings have increased since Tucker Carlson left Fox News, attracting displaced viewers. Eric Bolling, a former Fox News host, now holds the 8 p.m. primetime slot on Newsmax. According to Forbes, CNN had an average audience of 335,000 viewers, slightly trailing behind Newsmax’s 357,000 viewers. However, Fox News remained the leading network with 1.44 million viewers, followed by MSNBC with 1.084 million viewers, despite Tucker Carlson’s absence.
According to Daily Kos:
Licht thought it was a good night for CNN as well. The event pulled in over 3 million viewers, allowing CNN to momentarily top Fox as the most-viewed cable channel. Better still, in Licht’s view, CNN “Made a LOT of news,” he wrote to his staff the morning after the event. “And that is our job.” Oddly enough, many people still believe that the job of a news network is to report the news, not create it.
Both Licht and Zaslav have expressed a desire to move CNN to the right, supposedly in a bid to restore credibility to the network. Zaslav rushed to Licht’s defense following the town hall event and cited a poll showing that before the event, trust in CNN’s content had increased. What he failed to point out was that reported trust in CNN had gone up much less than trust in any other news network. And again, those numbers were from before Licht’s stunt.
Ratings at Newsmax have been boosted by a big drop at the mothership of right-wing punditry, Fox News. With the ouster of Tucker Carlson, Fox’s numbers have fallen by 24% overall. That still puts them well ahead of MSNBC, but their decline is real, as is the bleed of their most radical viewers to Newsmax and the even more removed from reality OAN.
CNN’s prime-time viewership has dropped, placing fourth behind Newsmax. Despite a temporary boost from Donald Trump’s town hall, attracting over 3.1 million viewers, CNN couldn’t maintain the momentum. With 80 million subscribers, CNN remains accessible across various platforms, while Newsmax has surged in ratings since Tucker Carlson left Fox News. Forbes reports that CNN slightly trails behind Newsmax in average viewership, while Fox News leads overall, followed by MSNBC. CNN’s primetime shows, including Anderson Cooper 360, have struggled to compete with Newsmax. However, CNN’s ratings gradually returned to normal after the initial spike from Trump’s town hall.
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