A Tiny Premium News Channel Just Trounced CNN in Key Prime-Time Slot

It seems not even King James can save CNN. 

King James, as in LeBron James, that is. 

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The cable news channel has been fighting an uphill battle to regain viewers in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidency. With the divisive former president out of office, CNN had sought a more centrist approach to coverage under the new leadership of Chris Licht

“I think we have to restore trust – it’s that simple,” Licht had said. “You can talk to a lot of different people as to why that has eroded, but as opposed to looking back I will say one of our missions is to restore our reputation as the most trusted name in news.”

“We certainly have research that shows that [trust] has eroded,” he continued. 

That mission has proven more difficult than anticipated. After a series of shakeups, host spats, quiet scoldings, and firings — Licht stepped down — CNN is still trying to find its way. 

The Cable-News-Viewer Numbers Are In 

It’s been a rocky few months for cable news. After the public and sudden departure of Fox News star host Tucker Carlson, both CNN and Fox have been trying to find their footing.

Here are the most recent numbers for Tuesday, Aug. 1, during prime-time hours, right after more Trump indictment news broke around 5:30 p.m. EST that evening: 

MSNBC: 2.6 million viewersFox News: 2.2 million viewersCNN: 1 million viewers

For the month of July, Fox News continued its winning streak, notching the entire month on top. Here are the numbers for the total day charts: 

Fox News: 1.1 million average viewersMSNBC: 760,000 average viewersHallmark Channel: 476,000 average viewersCNN: 431,000 average viewers

Jeanine Pirro, Jessica Tarlov, Jesse Watters, Dana Perino and Greg Gutfeld attend Fox News’ “The Five” at Fox News Studios on June 28, 2023, in New York City.

John Lamparski/Getty Images

CNN Loses to a Nascent News Startup

CNN had perhaps hoped that its Sunday evening release of “See It Loud: The History of Black Television,” produced by LeBron James and Maverick Carter, would be its salvation.  

That was not the case. 

It was beaten out by NewsNation in the key demo, or the key advertising demographic, for adults aged 25-54, for the 9 p.m. hour. Key demos can vary, but the most desirable demographic for advertisers on cable news is considered ages 25-54. 

In that time slot, NewsNation was airing “We Are Not Alone,” a two-hour discussion about the recent congressional hearings on UFOs. 

Here are the numbers in the key demo of audiences ages 25-54 for the 9 p.m. hour: 

NewsNation: 39,000 demo viewersCNN: 32,000 demo viewers

It’s worth noting that CNN beat NewsNation as a whole for the slot, bringing in 356,000 viewers versus NewsNation’s 106,000.

This is a big win for NewsNation, which officially launched only in 2021. It has been vocal about its aim to encompass all political backgrounds and inclinations, hiring former Fox News VP Cherie Grzech, former Fox News correspondent Leland Vittert, and former CNN host Chris Cuomo to its burgeoning league of management and personalities. 

In June, the former intelligence official and whistleblower David Grusch gave an interview to NewsNation detailing claims that the U.S. government was running a top-secret UFO discovery program.

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