Chris Cuomo Will Not Be NewsNations Savior

Chris Cuomo has a new primetime TV show on a new cable news channel, but he won’t be bringing his former CNN audience over with him. Not in its entirety, at least — not nearly.

The “Cuomo Prime Time” alum is joining Nexstar Media Group’s cable network NewsNation this fall as the host of his own primetime show there. The channel has not yet said which hour Cuomo will occupy; he had the 9 p.m. hour at CNN, which is now “CNN Tonight’s” timeslot. NewsNation is built on the concept of leaning neither hard left nor hard right, instead targeting the meaty middle between left-of-center and right-of-center. Unfortunately, thus far, the channel has not found a sizable audience there.

This year, NewsNation is averaging a paltry 50,000 total viewers in primetime; only 8,000 of those viewers come from the 25-54 age range, which is considered the key demo for advertisers on news programming. Compare those numbers with CNN’s 2022 primetime average of 762,000 total viewers; 15x as many, and still last place among the Big 3 cable news channels. MSNBC is averaging 1.192 million total primetime viewers this year; Fox News Channel gets 2.372 million. (In the key demo, Fox News is first with 375,000; CNN gets 190,000; and MSNBC brings up the non-NewsNation rear with 136,000.)

When Cuomo was at CNN, the network was doing better than it is now; though that can be said about much of linear TV as viewing continuously becomes more fragmented. In 2020, “Cuomo Prime Time” averaged 1.992 million total viewers per evening; 533,000 of those came from the key demo. Last year, the show averaged 1.334 million total viewers; 327,000 were in the main demo. It’s important to point out a few things here: 1) 2020 was a presidential-election year, which are always strong for cable news; and 2) Cuomo didn’t technically complete 2021 as a CNN employee.

So yes, Cuomo brings potential — but to a channel that needs much, much more than potential. He also brings a bit of a stigma. Cuomo was fired from CNN in December after the cable news channel hired a law firm to investigate his involvement in conversations with his brother Andrew Cuomo’s defense team. At the time, Andrew Cuomo was the Democratic governor of New York, and had been accused of sexual harassment by multiple women. Chris Cuomo encouraged his brother to “take a defiant position” and not resign, and stated that “cancel culture” was a reason to push back against the allegations, according to The Washington Post.

In addition to Chris Cuomo, NewsNation’s other high-profile hosts include Dan Abrams (9 p.m.) and CourtTV and CNN alum Ashleigh Banfield (at 10 p.m.). Abrams and “NewsNation Prime,” the newscast hosted by Marni Hughes, swapped time slots in late February, meaning Hughes now kicks off primetime at 8 p.m. Cuomo joining the primetime lineup should certainly help draw additional viewers from an awareness standpoint — and from a curiosity/trainwreck POV.

Chris Cuomo and Abrams discussed the whole ordeal last night on NewsNation’s “Dan Abrams Live.” Cuomo maintained he did not cross uncrossable lines with his brother’s situation. “I never lied, and there were no secrets,” Cuomo told Abrams. Watch their interview here.

“NewsNation believes in the work I am doing with ‘The Chris Cuomo Project’ and I look forward to building something special here — covering news wherever it happens and having conversations that cater to common concerns and solutions rather than political parties or the political circus,” Cuomo said in a statement on Tuesday.

Sean Compton, Nexstar Media Inc.’s president of Networks, added: “NewsNation has earned high-praise from multiple media watchdog groups by remaining true to its mission to bring viewers the fact-based news that impacts their lives without opinion or bias. Chris joins our growing team of seasoned, award-winning journalists and will further our efforts to continue to ensure fairness and transparency in our news reporting and talk shows.”

Cuomo is a News Emmy-winning journalist and an attorney. Prior to hosting “Cuomo Prime Time,” he was the co-anchor of CNN’s morning show “New Day.” He has also co-anchored ABC’s “20/20” and served as news anchor for its “Good Morning America.” Prior to his ABC News run, Cuomo was a correspondent and political policy analyst for Fox News.

NewsNation used to be WGN America; it reaches 75 million U.S. television households. That’s about on par with Fox News Channel.

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