cnn crushed
cnn crushed

By Brian Flood | Fox News

The Democrats’ debate Wednesday night proved to be the latest challenge for struggling CNN.

As liberal viewers flocked to NBC and MSNBC for the debate, there weren’t many left for CNN, which averaged a dismal 569,000 viewers from 9-11 p.m. ET.

Nearly 20 million people watched the debate on MSNBC and NBC combined, while Fox News averaged 3.1 million viewers over the same time period.


CNN’s viewership was especially low among the key demographic of adults age 25-54, averaging only 149,000 during the debate while FNC averaged 551,000. CNN’s demo turnout was smaller than the primetime averages of 31 different cable networks during the month of January.

CNN got crushed — not just during the debate, but during all of primetime Wednesday night. The beleaguered network averaged only 772,000 viewers from 8-11 p.m. ET, while Fox News averaged 3.3 million during the same time period.

Despite the low output, CNN actually had less primetime viewers on two other evenings this year when it averaged only 762,000 on Valentine’s Day and only 730,000 on Jan. 13, the night of the College Football Playoff National Championship.

NBC attracted 12 million viewers during Wednesday’s fiery debate and 7.6 million tuned in on MSNBC for a total of 19.7 million.

Fox News has continued to hold the all-time record for a primary debate; 24 million people tuned in on Aug. 6, 2015, when the GOP event featured future President Trump’s debate debut. It has remained the most-watched non-sports cable program of all time.

Fox News recently celebrated its 18th consecutive year as the most-watched cable news network, dating back to January 2002. FNC’s 18-year streak has been for both primetime and total-day viewers, including the key demo.

Fox News clinched the feat with a dominant January 2020, averaging 1.7 million total-day viewers and 2.9 primetime viewers. It was the network’s highest-rated month among total-day viewers since February 2017 and among primetime viewers since November 2016.

While Fox News grew 28 percent compared to the previous year among total viewers, liberal MSNBC and CNN both saw declines. MSNBC averaged 996,000 viewers, down 12 percent from January 2019, and CNN managed only 751,000, an 8-percent drop.

All data courtesy early Nielsen Media Research. Brian Flood covers the media for Fox News.

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