The TV ratings of major news networks have plummeted in the first full week of the Biden administration. According to an analysis conducted by Variety Intelligence Platform, the ratings of CNN for the final week of January fell by 44 percent of the total audience compared to the previous week.
The decline occurred in all three hours of primetime between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. The platform analyzed two key metrics — total audience and target news demographic of 24- to 54-year-olds. Additionally, other networks like MSNBC and Fox News also saw a decline in ratings during primetime hours.
The rating drop was something that many media analysts expected after Trump’s exit on Jan. 20. A day before, Andrew Wallenstein, the President and Chief Media Analyst of Variety Intelligence Platform, predicted the ratings decline over the coming weeks.
“Once we get to the place where Trump finally recedes from the headlines, there’s a lot at stake here for the TV news and late-night genres, which lose a singular attraction… CNN and MSNBC benefited most, with tough reporting that hit Trump hard, delighting most Americans who voted for Biden. Both networks succeeded brilliantly in that regard, but now that makes them vulnerable once the prime focus of their coverage is no longer there,” he had said in an article.
However, this could change in the coming weeks as the Trump impeachment trial starts on Feb. 8. Given the emotional intensity on both sides of the political spectrum, the impeachment will likely attract plenty of attention. The news networks will capitalize on that interest to boost their ratings.
If Trump is found not guilty in the trial, he may run for the 2024 presidency. That would help these networks if the former president actively engages with the public over the next several years.
CNN’s 8 p.m. time slot had an average audience of 5.19 million between Jan. 4 and Jan. 8, during the Georgia runoff election and the Capitol breach. The viewership dropped to just 2.04 million between Jan. 25 and 29.
CNN beat Fox in ratings
Fox and MSNBC had 4.18 and 4.6 million viewers respectively between Jan. 4 and 8. This dropped to 3.5 and 2.33 million during the Jan. 25 to 29 period. Among the 25- to 54-year-old demographic, CNN’s 9 p.m. show Cuomo Prime Time saw the most significant decline. In contrast, Tucker Carlson Tonight at Fox was the only program that did not see a downturn.
“In January, Fox’s audience was down 19 percent in total viewers from the same period a year ago compared to CNN’s 153 percent total audience increase in the period. CNN also topped Fox in primetime ratings in January, a period when Fox News and hosts Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity have historically been dominant,” according to Reuters.
However, for the first full week after Biden’s inauguration, Fox came out on top of CNN and MSNBC. Fox had recently hired Larry Kudlow to host a weekday show. Kudlow used to be one of the top economic advisors for Trump when he was president.