What to Make of Chris Cuomo’s NewsNation Ratings

Chris Cuomo returned to cable news this week on the startup network NewsNation. His program called “Cuomo” airs at 8 pm ET, an hour before his previous time slot at CNN.

The program has averaged 169,000 viewers through its first two episodes. Notably, the show gained from its debut of 147,000 on Monday to 191,000 on Tuesday. (“Monday Night Football” eating away at cable competition on Monday likely explains the second-day gain.)

These numbers are minimal compared to the Big 3 cable news networks, CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News. But Cuomo’s average is strong for NewsNation, a channel viewers hardly know exists.

For context, the network’s primetime lineup averaged around 45,000 viewers this summer, at the time Cuomo finalized his talks with the network.

So far, viewers are turning to NewsNation for Cuomo’s program and his only. Tuesday, his 7 pm lead-in “On Balance with Leland Vittert” averaged just 59,000 viewers. Meanwhile, Dan Abrams drew 94,000 following “Cuomo” at 9 pm.

However, success is not determined in a few days. NewsNation needs Cuomo to continue to “Get After It” — and hopefully from that loathsome catchphrase.

Currently, there’s a pent-up interest in Cuomo following his ousting at CNN. What will he say? Will he apologize? Is he remorseful? The interest in these questions should wane as the weeks progress.

NewsNation also loaded up the guest list for premiere week with Bill Maher, Dan Rather, and Stephen A. Smith. Suffice to say field reporters won’t create the same buzz.

The newtork hopes to see Cuomo have the impact Skip Bayless had on FS1 when it signed him away from ESPN in 2016. FS1 can never challenge ESPN in total daily viewers. Yet Bayless put the network on the map, raising its time slot average from around 30,000 to 100,000 to eventually 150,000.

NewsNationl signed Chris Cuomo to mainstream the channel and elevate the lineup around him. The network envisions an eventual scenario where it can carve out a larger market share in the cable news pie. That is no easy task.

Cuomo’s viewership must also outweigh the baggage of his signing. NewsNation brands itself as a straight news alternative to the cable news industry. That reputation is hardly marketable with the addition of Cuomo and his bombastic delivery.

That’s fine, so long as he proves to move the needle on a consistent basis. He must maintain and not lose the early momentum.

Signing Cuomo will prove worth it or not based on where the show settles in three, six, or even nine months from now.

Does he raise his average to 200,000 viewers, or does it fizzle to the 50,000 the lineup had been averaging? These two disparate possibilities are equally realistic.

Written by Bobby Burack

Bobby Burack covers media, politics, and sports at OutKick.

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