CNN's Ratings Crash and Burn for Night One of the Democratic Debates

Sen. Bernie Sanders

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during the first of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Tuesday, July 30, 2019, at the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)


Yesterday, CNN hosted the first night of the second Democratic debate. Given the buildup and the marquee matchup of Bernie Sanders vs. Elizabeth Warren, you’d expect they did pretty well in the ratings.

Apparently, not though. CNN lost about 45% of the audience that tuned in for night one of the Democratic debate that aired on MSNBC last month. That’s a colossal drop.

The first night of CNN’s Democratic debate in Detroit drew 8.7 million television viewers, a steep drop from last month’s event hosted by NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo.

The June event brought in 15.3 million viewers across the three networks on Night One, with 18.1 million tuning in for the second night, a Democratic primary record.

Things were even worse when factoring in online streaming.

CNN also announced that 2.8 million watched via livestream on the network’s platforms. NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo said they drew more than 9 million onlinestream viewers on the first debate night in June across their own digital properties, along with social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Yes, that’s almost a 70% drop off.

I’ll note two things here. One, whatever CNN touches burns to the ground. Their primetime ratings have been a dumpster fire for a while now, falling well behind even MSNBC. They’ve tried shifting personalities around and hosting Democratic town halls, hoping to spark things. It hasn’t worked. I think it’s safe to conclude that people just don’t like CNN at this point.


Secondly, the interest level in the Democrat candidates for 2020 just isn’t there at the level the Democratic party would like. There’s a reason you aren’t seeing live shots from large rallies. That’s because there are none. While things are still early, seeing such a large drop off in the total audience for just the second debate is not a good sign for what most Americans think of the current field. Perhaps that’ll turn around tonight with Biden on the stage, but I’m skeptical.

Meanwhile, CNN continues to try to project itself as the big man on campus while they actually slip further into obscurity. They are now a distant 3rd among the cable news networks and are becoming less relevant by the day.


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