CNN Records Smallest Weekday Viewership in 22 Years

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CNN recorded one of its lowest-rated weekdays in network history on Friday.

The network drew 56,000 viewers in the advertiser-coveted 25-54 age demographic, the lowest average in 22 years. In total viewership, CNN averaged 283,000, marking the least-watched day since 2014.

CNN’s highest-rated show in primetime drew 377,000 total viewers on Friday. For context, the ESPN morning show First Take averaged 405,000 on the same day at 10 am ET.

So more viewers now tune in to hear Stephen A. Smith call people racist in the morning than tune in to hear Don Lemon call people racist at 10 pm. Not good.

New network president Chris Licht is slowly trying to bring CNN back to the middle with a pivot away from its failed MSNBC impersonation. But, while Licht has made some noticeable changes — such as torpedoing the dramatic “breaking” chyrons — the network’s content remains partisan and divisive.

CNN distances itself from former viewers by downplaying everyday issues like inflation, gas prices, and crime. Instead, CNN provides wall-to-wall coverage of the Jan. 6 hearings.

This might be hard for Anderson Cooper to hear, but the average American does not wake up with a riot from 18 months ago on their mind.

Rather than cover the topics viewers demand, CNN demands which topics viewers consume. And consumers don’t want to be told what to have an interest in — it’s insulting.

Further, individual stars drive the bus at a time of content oversaturation. For example, primetime ratings at MSNBC rise when Rachel Maddow is on and sink when she is off. CNN does not have a Rachel Maddow, or even a Joe Scarborough, on its roster.

No one says, “I need to run home and hear what Don Lemon or Jim Acosta has to say about this topic.”

So even if Licht steers CNN in a less cartoonish direction, he’ll need to supplement the new chapter with hosts that move the needle. Bad news: Brianna Keilar, Laura Coates, and that Victor Blackwell guy are not the answers.

CNN, the oldest cable news network on-air, now draws roughly 10 percent of all cable news viewership.


CNN’s historically low outing on Friday may not be a blip but a sign of the new normal until drastic changes are made.

Written by Bobby Burack

Bobby Burack is a writer for OutKick where he reports and analyzes the latest topics in media, culture, sports, and politics..

Burack has become a prominent voice in media and has been featured on several shows across OutKick and industry related podcasts and radio stations.

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