DANGER: Megyn audience drops 42%… Unprecedented Battle for News Viewers… Advertisers in hot seat as activists call for boycotts
In head-to-head competition, 60 Minutes, which was Sunday’s most-watched show, drew 7.9 million viewers while the second episode of Kelly’s show, which included an interview with Erin Anderson, averaged 3.6 million, down -42 percent from its debut episode a week earlier.
Before returning stateside last week to anchor her 7 p.m. “Outfront” program on CNN, Burnett spent the weekend doing research on the ground in the Middle East. On Tuesday, she wrapped an important interview with Qatar’s U.S. ambassador with just 90 seconds to go before the start of her show — only to find she had to juggle multiple breaking news items about critical national issues, including former FBI director James Comey’s coming testimony before Congress. The frenzy of activity seems to be working: Burnett’s viewership in the demo that advertisers covet for news, adults 25-54, more than doubled in May.
“This is the new normal,” says Burnett in an interview at CNN’s New York headquarters after the June 6 edition of “Outfront.” “There has been no exception to that rule in weeks.”
Burnett’s new normal is something that in the past would have been distinctly abnormal for the nation’s cable-news networks and the big media conglomerates that run them. After a presidential election, so the rule goes, audiences dissipate. According to the Pew Research Center, viewership for the primetime schedules of CNN, Fox News and MSNBC increased 55% to 4.8 million viewers in 2016, while daytime cable viewership grew 36%. In the first half of this year, viewing levels have not shrunk.
Advertisers are in the hot seat as activists both for and against Trump call for boycotts
It has come to feel like a weekly, even daily occurrence. Following a media firestorm, usually related in some way to President Trump, advertisers face calls to sever ties with the company at the center of the outrage du jour, or else suffer a publicity crisis.
In the days leading up to Megyn Kelly’s interview with Alex Jones, activists are demanding advertisers dump the NBC broadcast, claiming the show is giving a platform to the pro-Trump host of Infowars. The Web-based video and radio network has been criticized by many as a promoter of conspiracy theories, including repeatedly suggesting the shooting that killed 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in 2012 was a hoax.
Earlier this week, Bank of America and Delta Air Lines dropped their sponsorships of the Public Theater’s staging of Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” in New York, following an online furor over a scene in which the title character, dressed to resemble Trump, is stabbed to death.