As reported last week, cable news was the main focus on TV for the week of Jan. 4, 2021 which was a whirlwind of current events in our nation, from the Georgia senate election results to the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
CNN again showed it was the premier choice by viewers of cable news for breaking news. Wednesday, Jan. 6 marked CNN’s most-watched day in its network history (since 1980), averaging 5.221 million viewers, topping the previous record of 5.097 million on the day of the 2016 U.S. presidential election (Nov. 8, 2016).
Coverage of the U.S. Capitol riots especially propelled CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360”. The news program that aired in the 8 p.m. hour from Jan. 4-8 averaged 1.8 million adults 25-54, ranking as top prime time program within the demo in all of cable (including non-news shows).
On Sunday, Jan. 10 at 10 p.m., “CNN’s Special Report: The Trump Insurrection” anchored by Wolf Blitzer drew 3.319 million viewers and 883,000 among adults 25-54. It was cable’s most-watched non-sports telecast for the day; when including sports, the CNN special was runner-up to ESPN’s simulcast of the AFC Wild Card playoff game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Tennessee Titans (5.58 million).
Each of the Big-3 broadcast networks also had something to boast about.
While stating “ABC World News Tonight with David Muir” as the top network evening news program is not a new development — it has topped its NBC and CBS competition since 2016 — it extended its season lead during the chaotic week, averaging 10.13 million viewers for Jan. 4-8, 2021; +1.56 million over “NBC Nightly News” (Nielsen did not count Jan. 6 in NBC’s weeknight average) and +2.61 million over the “CBS Evening News.” It was the most-watched week for “ABC World News Tonight” since May 4-8, 2020.
NBC public affairs program “Meet the Press” topped its direct competition on the morning of Sunday Jan. 10 among total viewers and adults 25-54. The Chuck Todd-hosted telecast averaged 4.515 million viewers (its best since Mar. 29, 2020) and 1.095 million adults 25-54 (its best since Apr. 12, 2020). Todd interviewed Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.); former White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney; and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), Chair of the House Democratic Caucus. For the sake of comparison, the half-hour edition of CBS’s “Face the Nation” (4.451 million viewers/829,000 adults 25-54) was close behind, followed by ABC’s “This Week” (3.941 million viewers/825,000 adults 25-54) and “Fox News Sunday” (1.460 million viewers/448,000 adults 25-54).
Later on Sunday night, an average of 14.8 million viewers checked out “60 Minutes” on CBS. Lesley Stahl interviewed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Scott Pelley reported on President Trump’s attempt to influence the state of Georgia’s vote count. This marked the fifteenth consecutive week the newsmagazine ranked in the top ten TV shows according to total viewers; also, it was its top edition since Oct. 25, 2020 and the No. 1 show of the week for non-sports telecasts (though, heavily assisted from the 28+ million of the Bears-Saints playoff that immediately aired prior to it) — +6.65 million more than the next most-watched non-sports show: ABC’s “Celebrity Wheel of Fortune” from Jan. 7 (8.15 million viewers).
Here are the cable news prime time averages for Jan. 4-10, 2021:
Total Day (6 a.m.-5:59 a.m.)
- CNN: 2.772 million viewers; 880,000 adults 25-54
- MSNBC: 2.286 million viewers; 454,000 adults 25-54
- Fox News Channel: 1.680 million viewers; 335,000 adults 25-54
Prime Time (Jan. 4-9 @ 8-11 p.m.; Jan. 10 @ 7-11 p.m.)
- CNN: 4.176 million viewers; 1,347,000 adults 25-54
- MSNBC: 3.782 million viewers; 826,000 adults 25-54
- Fox News Channel: 3.188 million viewers; 592,000 adults 25-54
Top 10 most-watched cable news programs (and the top Fox News program and its associated rank) in total viewers:
1. Breaking News: Mob Attacks U.S. Capitol (CNN, Wed. 1/6/2021 4:00 PM, 60 min.) 10.168 million viewers
2. Breaking News: Mob Attacks U.S. Capitol (CNN, Wed. 1/6/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 10.051 million viewers
3. Breaking News: Mob Attacks U.S. Capitol (CNN, Wed. 1/6/2021 3:00 PM, 60 min.) 9.037 million viewers
4. Breaking News: Mob Attacks U.S. Capitol (CNN, Wed. 1/6/2021 6:00 PM, 60 min.) 8.807 million viewers
5. Anderson Cooper 360 (CNN, Wed. 1/6/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 8.800 million viewers
6. Cuomo Prime Time (CNN, Wed. 1/6/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 8.725 million viewers
7. MSNBC Special Coverage: Congress Certifies 2020 Election (MSNBC, Wed. 1/6/2021 8:06 PM, 54 min.) 8.448 million viewers
8. Erin Burnett Outfront (CNN, Wed. 1/6/2021 7:00 PM, 60 min.) 8.167 million viewers
9. CNN Tonight (CNN, Wed. 1/6/2021 10:00 PM, 60 min.) 7.748 million viewers
10. Rachel Maddow Show: Congress Certifies 2020 Election (MSNBC, Wed. 1/6/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 7.733 million viewers
13. Bill Hemmer Reports (FOXNC, Wed. 1/6/2021 4:00 PM, 60 min.) 6.532 million viewers
Top 10 cable news programs (and the top MSNBC and Fox News programs and its associated ranks) among adults 25-54:
1. Breaking News: Mob Attacks U.S. Capitol (CNN, Wed. 1/6/2021 4:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.682 million adults 25-54
2. Breaking News: Mob Attacks U.S. Capitol (CNN, Wed. 1/6/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.586 million adults 25-54
3. Anderson Cooper 360 (CNN, Wed. 1/6/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.314 million adults 25-54
4. Cuomo Prime Time (CNN, Wed. 1/6/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.277 million adults 25-54
5. Breaking News: Mob Attacks U.S. Capitol (CNN, Wed. 1/6/2021 6:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.149 million adults 25-54
6. Erin Burnett Outfront (CNN, Wed. 1/6/2021 7:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.065 million adults 25-54
7. Breaking News: Mob Attacks U.S. Capitol (CNN, Wed. 1/6/2021 3:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.057 million adults 25-54
8. CNN Tonight (CNN, Wed. 1/6/2021 10:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.001 million adults 25-54
9. Anderson Cooper 360 (CNN, Wed. 1/6/2021 11:00 PM, 80 min.) 2.554 million adults 25-54
10. CNN Special Coverage: Congress Certifies the 2020 Election (CNN, Wed. 1/6/2021 12:20 AM, 40 min.) 2.276 million adults 25-54
11. MSNBC Special Coverage: Congress Counts The Vote (MSNBC, Wed. 1/6/2021 8:06 PM, 54 min.) 2.207 million adults 25-54
17. Special Report with Bret Baier (FOXNC, Wed. 1/6/2021 6:00 PM, 60 min.) 1.691 million adults 25-54
Source: Live+Same Day data, Nielsen Media Research
Douglas Pucci is a Bronx native and NYU graduate analyzing news television ratings for Barrett News Media. He did an internship at VH1’s “Pop Up Video” in 1997. After college, Pucci went on to design, build and maintain websites for various non-profit organizations in his hometown of New York City. He has worked alongside media industry observer Marc Berman for over a decade reporting on all things television, first at Cross MediaWorks from 2011-15 then at Programming Insider since 2016. Pucci also contributed to the sports website Awful Announcing. Read more: https://programminginsider.com/author/douglas/
Airing The Tyre Nichols Video Was A Necessity
There were hard moments to watch in those videos, hard sounds to hear. But they aired.
Far be it for me not to address this outrageous and embarrassing instance in humanity. After the videos of Memphis police brutally beating Tyre Nichols were shown on television there really seemed to be more outrage emerging from society this time than from the media, for a change. One would think that’s how we wish things to be.
In instances like this, where the video and audio images are far from brief but are instead chaptered as they unfold, there are few options other than to let them run their course. Clocks — breaks hard and soft — are out the window, just as in live coverage.
Because that’s what this was, only the live this time was us, and as we all absorbed and reacted to actions disapprovingly familiar yet somehow foreign at the same time, the impact was still becoming apparent even though we already knew the outcome.
It’s happened before.
Not always like this but we’ve seen it before, police encounters shown on the news overtakes and become the news.
It takes effect as the sights and sounds are digested, dissected, and discussed, often before their potential impact could really be imagined.
In 1991, when the Handycam footage crossed screens for the first time and we learned Rodney King’s name, we didn’t know then but we had a feeling.
We were on the right track, though as newsrooms evolved and street reporting incorporated a different type of storytelling.
I was a cop in 1991. Changes came. Some.
It’s 2023, I’m no longer a cop. Changes will come again. Some.
Turning points — or the overused watershed moments — mean just as much to the news media as they do to law enforcement.
The “why’s” that make this a turning point are more society and community based this time around than they were in 1991.
At least I think so. And I don’t think it makes a bit of difference who’s involved this time.
There were hard moments to watch in those videos, and hard sounds to hear. But they aired. Where they couldn’t air, they were described in great detail; descriptions sometimes can be worse than the real thing. Sometimes, not this time.
And they should air, they shouldn’t stop airing. This is what happened and this is what people need to see and hear and this is exactly why we are here.
Warn them, provide them with a heads up that they’re not going to like what happens next. It’s life and we show life, and we show what some of us do with it when it’s someone else’s.
Overall, I would say the news platforms held their composure, even after the videos were released. I saw, read, and heard some refreshingly neutral coverage, even from outlets where I expected hard turns into the lanes on either side of the road.
Legitimate questions were asked by anchors and reporters and much of the time, the off-balance issues were raised more by those on the sidewalks and those on the other side of the cameras and microphones.
As much as I find myself in disagreement with what I often see on the cable networks — all the cable networks — I did find a sense of symmetry watching CNN’s Don Lemon speak with Memphis City Council Chair Martavius Jones in the hours after the videos were released.
Regular protocols be damned, Lemon and producers lingered patiently as Jones, visibly overcome by emotion, struggled to regain breath and composure enough to be able to speak. Rather than cut away or move to other elements, they stood fast and it became an example of what often requires no words.
There were fewer punches pulled on other platforms as well.
The sounds of the screams, the impacts, and the hate-filled commands were broadcast through car radios.
As were Tyre Nichol’s calls for his mom. They aired. They had to.
Bill Zito has devoted most of his work efforts to broadcast news since 1999. He made the career switch after serving a dozen years as a police officer on both coasts. Splitting the time between Radio and TV, he’s worked for ABC News and Fox News, News 12 New York , The Weather Channel and KIRO and KOMO in Seattle. He writes, edits and anchors for Audacy’s WTIC-AM in Hartford and lives in New England. You can find him on Twitter @BillZitoNEWS.
Does the Republican Establishment Get It?
For many it seemed that the Republican establishment stood idly by as Democrats changed the rules and worked behind the scenes to alter elections.
In a move that seemed to go against the wishes of the patriotic American grassroots, the Republican party on Friday re-elected RNC Chairperson Ronna McDaniel.
The media immediately took notice, as many on television and radio are now wondering why the party would re-elect a chairperson who has been so unpopular with the base of its party.
Grant Stinchfield discussed this issue Friday night on his program, Stinchfield Tonight, which airs on Real America’s Voice network.
“Ronna McDaniel holds on to her chairmanship of the Republican Party. By a whopping total of — what were the numbers– 111 to 54. Harmeet Dhillon only received 54 votes. Mike Lindell 4 votes. This is proof to me that the Republican establishment is dug in,” Stinchfield — formerly of Newsmax — said. “Don’t tell me they’re out of touch. See, you tell me they’re out of touch, that implies ignorance. They’re not ignorant about anything.”
As sentiment for Dhillon grew in the days leading up to Friday’s vote, many influential politicians and party donors publicly offered her their support and endorsement. These included Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), as well as donors Mike Rydin, Dick Uihlein, and Bernie Marcus.
Also on board were musician and outspoken conservative John Rich, along with the state GOP of Nebraska and Washington State. Countless journalists and media personalities, such as Charlie Kirk, Miranda Divine, and Lou Dobbs, also came out publicly in support of Dhillon. Former President Donald Trump remained neutral, not making a public choice of either of the three candidates.
For many of Dhillon’s supporters, the deciding factor was public sentiment across the party’s base.
“They’re reading the same chat boards. They’re getting the same emails I’m reading. I will literally post something about this race when I was supporting Harmeet Dhillon. There was not one comment – not one – that supported Ronna McDaniel. Everyone wanted change,” Stinchfield said, noting that the party elite saw the same groundswell of support for change.
“Now, nobody has an issue as Ronna McDaniel is some evil kind of person. I don’t believe she is. I believe, though, that she is part of the establishment. She’s been around too long as far as the establishment goes. And she’s been ingrained in doing business as usual. It’s not working.”
In making their choices known, many Dhillon supporters simply pointed to the scoreboard during McDaniel’s reign.
“Think about where we are. 2018, we lost the House. 2020, we lost everything. 2022, we won the House, but we should have really steamrolled the House and we should have taken back the Senate, which we didn’t do,” Stinchfield said. “That means we’re on a real losing track since she took over. I don’t like being on a losing track. I like being on a winning track.
“Something has got to change when you talk about all of this. So how does Ronna McDaniel get 111 votes and Harmeet Dhillon only get 54 votes, when everyone, every Republican voter I talk to said it was time for change?” pondered Stinchfield.
And even more than the losses, for many it seemed that the Republican establishment stood idly by as Democrats changed the rules and worked behind the scenes to alter elections. The most recent example of which came in Arizona, where presumptive gubernatorial favorite, Kari Lake, was “defeated” when countless voting irregularities occurred in some of the state’s most deep-red areas.
“Under her watch, Democrats instituted a mail-in ballot scheme. That may be even worse than losing, when you talk about the House and the Senate and all these things. The fact that we now have a junk mail-in ballot scheme across the country under Ronna McDaniel’s watch is serious trouble. Very serious trouble,” Stinchfield said on Friday. “And so the reason it is is because the Democrats are rigging the system.”
For years – until Donald Trump descended the golden escalator and took the world by storm – the Republican party had the reputation of being the party of the rich. Rush Limbaugh used to refer to this wing of Republicans as “the country club crowd.” President Donald Trump flipped the narrative completely, offering a clear vision of hope and patriotism to working-class America.
Reputable polling — such as Richard Baris’ Big Data Poll — consistently showed Trump running well ahead of almost every Republican candidate during the 2022 mid-term election cycle. In other words, Trump still maintains considerably more support across the country than most of the individual Senate or House candidates experienced.
Many experts believe this is because voters still view Trump as an outsider, while they view the Republican party much less favorably.
“Let’s tell you how out of touch they are, how elitist they are,” Stinchfield said, calling out the GOP establishment. “This meeting that went on, do you know where it is? It’s at the Waldorf Astoria Monarch in California. One of the most expensive resorts in America. You’re lucky if you get a room for a thousand dollars a night down there on Dana Point. Now, it’s a beautiful hotel, but why is the Republican Party holding an event there? Then I went back and I looked at what RedState did. RedState went back and looked at some of the expenses that the Republican Party under Ronna McDaniel’s leadership was spending money on.
“Take a look at this. $3.1 million on private jets. $1.3 million on limousine and chauffeur services. $17.1 million on donor mementos. $750,000 on floral arrangements. Now you compare this to the Democrats. The Democrats spent $35,000 on private airfare. A thousand dollars on floral arrangements. A thousand. Not $750,000. A thousand. And the $17.1 million they spent on donor mementos, the Democrats spent $1.5 million.
“Democrats know where to put the money. It’s not giving donors gifts. Donors shouldn’t want gifts. If you give money, give money. You don’t need the fancy pin to put on your lapel.”
Following her loss, Dhillon warned her party that it must listen to the base, saying, “if we ignore this message, I think it’s at our peril. It’s at our peril personally, as party leaders and it’s at our peril for our party in general.”
Rick Schultz is a former Sports Director for WFUV Radio at Fordham University. He has coached and mentored hundreds of Sports Broadcasting students at the Connecticut School of Broadcasting, Marist College and privately. His media career experiences include working for the Hudson Valley Renegades, Army Sports at West Point, The Norwich Navigators, 1340/1390 ESPN Radio in Poughkeepsie, NY, Time Warner Cable TV, Scorephone NY, Metro Networks, NBC Sports, ABC Sports, Cumulus Media, Pamal Broadcasting and WATR. He has also authored a number of books including “A Renegade Championship Summer” and “Untold Tales From The Bush Leagues”. To get in touch, find him on Twitter @RickSchultzNY.
The State of the Radio Industry and Technology
“As the industry continues to evolve, radio broadcasters must find new ways to monetize their digital offerings and adapt to changing listener habits.”
After writing some three-dozen columns for Barrett Media, I often hear that I don’t provide a balanced view of the radio industry. Therefore, this week, I will write about the strengths and weaknesses of the radio industry. It may be a little simplistic, but it will make sense at the end. I promise.
The radio broadcasting business continues to evolve in the digital age, with strengths and challenges to consider. One of the most significant strengths of radio is its ability to reach a broad audience. Radio waves can travel long distances, allowing local stations to reach listeners beyond their immediate area. This makes radio a powerful tool for both local and national advertisers. Radio also reaches audiences in their cars, at work, and at home, providing advertisers with multiple touchpoints. According to the Radio Advertising Bureau, radio reaches 93% of adults in the United States each week, making it one of the most widely consumed mediums. Furthermore, radio is a cost-effective form of advertising, with lower ad rates than other media forms. This allows small businesses to reach a large audience without breaking the bank.
Another strength of radio is its role in emergency communication. In times of crisis, radio can provide important information to listeners quickly and efficiently. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requires all radio stations to have emergency alert systems, allowing them to disseminate critical information to the public promptly. Radio can be a lifeline for communities during natural disasters, power outages, or other emergencies, providing updates on road closures, evacuation orders, and other important information. Radio can reach remote areas where other forms of communication may not be as reliable. This makes radio a vital tool for emergency responders, who rely on it to coordinate responses and disseminate information.
Despite these strengths, the radio industry faces several challenges in the digital age. One of the biggest challenges is competition from other media outlets, such as streaming services and podcasts. The rise of these digital platforms has led to a decline in traditional radio listening, which is likely to continue.
According to a Nielsen report, traditional radio listening among adults aged 18-34 has dropped by 20% over the last decade. Additionally, many radio stations are struggling to monetize their digital offerings, which has led to a decline in revenue. However, radio has been able to adapt by incorporating streaming services, podcasts, and other digital platforms, which allows them to reach a wider audience and cater to changing listening habits.
Another challenge is the consolidation of the radio industry. In recent years, there has been a significant amount of it, with a small number of companies owning multiple stations. This has led to less programming diversity and less market competition. This can lead to a homogenization of content, with less local flavor and less opportunity for new voices in the industry. However, many smaller independent stations have survived by providing unique and localized content catering to the needs of their community.
Despite these challenges, the radio industry continues to generate significant revenue. The Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB) says that radio advertising revenue in the United States reached $18.9 billion in 2019. The radio industry has been able to adapt to the changing market, with many stations now offering a combination of traditional and digital programming. The industry has also been able to monetize digital offerings by incorporating targeted advertising, sponsorships, and other revenue streams.In conclusion, the radio broadcasting business is facing challenges in the digital age, but it continues to have an enormous audience reach and role in emergency communication.
Additionally, the industry continues to generate significant revenue. As the industry continues to evolve, radio broadcasters must find new ways to monetize their digital offerings and adapt to changing listener habits.
If my analysis seems a little simplistic or this column doesn’t seem like my typical style, it’s because I didn’t write it. The column was written using artificial intelligence (AI). More specifically, by the hottest tech trend these days, ChatGPT.
How hot? Here are a couple of data points from a report in Axios.
- In June, generative AI was covered in only 152 articles. Just six months later, the topic has generated roughly 12,000 news stories, according to MuckRack data.
- At this year’s CES trade show, 579 exhibitors were listed under the show’s “Artificial Intelligence” category — more than double of those categorized as “Metaverse” (176), “Cryptocurrency” (19), and “Blockchain” (55) combined.
ChatGPT is AI technology that allows you to have regular conversations with a chatbot that can answer questions and help with tasks such as writing columns.
ChatGPT is what Siri wants to be when she grows up.
ChatGPT is currently open and free while it’s in its research and feedback collection phase. If it’s not perfect, it’s certainly a lot of fun. It is also quite helpful when researching a topic (as long as the information you need is pre-2021). It is much more efficient and precise than Google, any other search engine, or Siri. I find myself obsessed with seeing what it knows and can do. If you try it, you probably will be too.
Andy Bloom is president of Andy Bloom Communications. He specializes in media training and political communications. He has programmed legendary stations including WIP, WPHT and WYSP/Philadelphia, KLSX, Los Angeles and WCCO Minneapolis. He was Vice President Programming for Emmis International, Greater Media Inc. and Coleman Research. Andy also served as communications director for Rep. Michael R. Turner, R-Ohio. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can follow him on Twitter @AndyBloomCom.