This is the second story in four days that Fox News has run about Cuomo’s tanking ratings, which must be deeply enjoyable to them. Not because (or just because) Cuomo’s a competitor but because CNN media reporters like Brian Stelter and Oliver Darcy seem to devote 80 percent of their time tracking Fox’s foibles. “What’s Fox up to today?” is practically its own bureau within Jeff Zucker’s network.
What Fox is up to today, it turns out, is chronicling the ratings demise of the dimmer of the two Cuomo brothers. Might not see much Stelter/Darcy coverage-of-the-coverage on that.
Last week Ed speculated that part of the reason for CNN’s cratering primetime ratings was a backlash to Chris driven by the wider backlash to his brother. I was skeptical of that; more likely, it seemed to me, was that Chris was simply being swept along by the receding tide as viewers tuned out after a year of gripping daily chaos in the news. But after reading this, I’m beginning to wonder. *Is* Chris getting cold-shouldered by viewers who found his pattycake interviews with Andrew last summer nauseating in hindsight, if not at the time?
CNN’s “Cuomo Prime Time” averaged 1.31 million viewers during the week of March 15, the show’s smallest total since it averaged 1.3 million viewers during the week of March 2, 2020 – days before coronavirus rocked America as the NBA shut down, actor Tom Hanks tested positive for the virus, and then-President Donald Trump addressed the nation about the virus from the Oval Office.
“Cuomo Prime Time” finished 2020 with a yearly average of 1.8 million viewers, making it CNN’s most-watched program. However, the left-wing CNN show has dropped roughly half a million nightly viewers since then.
“Cuomo Prime Time” also struggled among the key demographic of adults age 25-to-54, averaging only 307,000 viewers for its worst performance since the week of Feb. 24, 2020 among the group most coveted by advertisers.
Last week “Cuomo Prime Time” was down *65 percent* from its ratings the week of Biden’s inauguration, a moment when CNN was spiking due to heavy news interest among the public.
I’m willing to believe that Andrew’s misfortunes are partly driving Chris’s misfortunes. For instance, the latest national polling about the former is … not great:
Andrew’s gone from a net approval among Democrats of +20 in late February to -16 now. Maybe that’s bleeding over into Chris’s audience. But if so … tell me how, exactly. Why would viewers blame Chris for their upset with Andrew? And before you answer, remember this graphic from Variety that Ed posted last week:
Double yikes, if advertising $$ is your thing. pic.twitter.com/jSTKp5AaOm
— Noah Rothman (@NoahCRothman) March 12, 2021
Anderson Cooper, the 8 p.m. host who leads into Cuomo’s show, lost a greater share of total viewers and viewers in the key demo than Cuomo did between early December and early March. If anything, Cooper may have been dragging Cuomo down slightly. Plus, color me skeptical that the average cable news viewer has the sort of long memory about a host’s transgressions that partisan news junkies like you and I do. How many of Chris’s viewers remembered lately that he did softball interviews with his brother last year, at a moment when every Democrat in the country was cooing over Andrew’s pandemic leadership? Of that percentage, what percentage is so angry at Chris for that now that they simply can’t bear to watch his show anymore? Can’t be much.
An alternate possibility is that some people have stopped watching Cuomo’s show because they know he’s been banned by CNN from covering his brother’s problems and thus they have to look elsewhere for information about that. But I’m skeptical about that too. The Andrew Cuomo scandal-rama has dragged on for weeks and isn’t so gripping that it’s receiving saturation coverage anywhere, including righty media which has a partisan motive to follow it. Realistically, how many “Cuomo Prime Time” viewers are so engrossed by Andrew’s troubles that they can’t bear to watch an hour of news in primetime if they know up front that they won’t hear about it?
I think Chris’s ratings woes are more simply explained. His “brand” as a journalist/commentator was criticizing Trump and Republicans and the appetite for that among his target audience is much less voracious than it used to be now that the threat has been removed. Cuomo has also spent a ton of time on the pandemic, with Anthony Fauci a recurring guest, but anxiety about that has also begun to abate after a year as vaccinations increase and cases fall. Those two subjects were Cuomo’s two “specialties” and the public just isn’t hungry for them right now. Maybe that’ll change as Trump finally reemerges.