Left-wing networks CNN and MSNBC relied almost exclusively on anti-Trump content to attract viewership over the past four years and now that the Republican president has exited office, those same networks are witnessing their ratings nosedive at unprecedented levels.
What are the details?
In the first week since Trump left office, CNN’s ratings during primetime hours (8 p.m. through 10 p.m. EST) plummeted by a whopping 44%, according to Variety Intelligence Platform’s analysis of the viewership data. To determine the changes in viewership, Variety analyzed data across two key metrics — the target news demographic of people ages 25-54 and total audience.
During the same week, MSNBC’s primetime ratings fell as well, though not as sharply as CNN’s. The network’s audience decreased nearly 20% during the 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. slots, and fell by 11% during the 9 p.m. slot.
Meanwhile, Fox News saw its primetime ratings decrease only slightly during the 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. slot and not at all at 8 p.m. when “Tucker Carlson Tonight” is broadcast.
The program hit hardest, according to Variety, was “Cuomo Prime Time” airing at 9 p.m., which saw its audience of 25-54 year-olds fall by more than half.
Why does it matter?
It should be noted that CNN’s fall was made more dramatic by the fact that the network performed so well in the month of January as Trump’s term drew to a close. The network overtook ratings behemoth Fox News amid its coverage of the Capitol riot, impeachment proceedings, and then President Joe Biden’s inauguration.
But for as much as CNN and MSNBC seemed to despise the Trump presidency, the networks may soon wish it were back if for no other reason than to drive business.
Variety acknowledged as much in its report, saying, “While it’s too early to conclude any longer-term direction for news ratings after just one week, the downturn could be interpreted as an indicator of what many industry observers had anticipated: With Biden in the White House, networks that have spent the last four years railing consistently against Trump have lost the main attraction that energized their audience bases, making it difficult to hold onto the elevated viewing levels.”
It remains to be seen if the low viewership for CNN and MSNBC remains, and if it does, how the networks will respond. But if you’re expecting they will course-correct and begin leaning more conservatively, you shouldn’t hold your breath, especially as the Senate’s impeachment trial against Trump looms.