CNN has learned that there’s nothing wrong with a little attitude.
In just six months, the network’s new 9 p.m. program, “Cuomo Prime Time,” has become the most-watched show on the AT&T-owned cable-news network. Anchor Chris Cuomo’s show has surpassed colleague Anderson Cooper’s 8 p.m. program in that distinction, and helped CNN gain more notice in cable-news’ toughest time slot, where Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity and MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow draw some of the medium’s biggest audiences.
Cuomo is not doing it with the type of talk that has worked for CNN in the past. The host isn’t one for the light banter that time-slot predecessors Larry King and Piers Morgan used at 9 p.m. Cuomo likes a good verbal sparring.
“It’s about the debate,” says Melanie Buck, the show’s executive producer, in an interview. “It’s about the pushing.”
Each night, Cuomo urges his viewers to come along with him on a quest for the facts at the root of the daily news cycle. “Let’s get after it!” he says to them.
He’s not trumping the competition. Fox News’ Sean Hannity was the most-watched cable-news show in November, drawing 3,026,000 viewers at 9 p.m., and 571,000 in the 25 to 54 demo that advertisers covet. His program was also the most-watched show at 9 p.m. in all of cable at that time. MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow snared 2.9 million and 525,000 in the demo.
But Cuomo’s numbers last month – 1,288,000 overall viewers and 381,000 in the demo – have improved CNN’s performance in the time slot. His overall viewership in November was up 25% in time slot compared to last year, while his audience in the key demo was up 2% in the period. On two nights last week, Cuomo’s audience among the 25-to-54 crowd was more than Hannity’s (one of those broadcasts was classified as a Hannity special).
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SOURCE: Variety, by BRIAN STEINBERG