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FOX News Leads Ratings Race in Vice Presidential Debate Week

It’s the second most-watched vice presidential debate in TV history, surpassing the previous runner-up mark of 56.7 million for George H.W. Bush-Geraldine Ferraro from 1984

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The highly-charged political season (and news cycle) continues to deliver big audiences as nearly 58 million viewers in households tuned in to the Mike Pence-Kamala Harris vice presidential debate on Oct. 7 on the linear networks. It’s the second most-watched vice presidential debate in TV history, surpassing the previous runner-up mark of 56.7 million for George H.W. Bush-Geraldine Ferraro from 1984; the all-time record was 69.6 million for Joe Biden-Sarah Palin in 2008. Pence-Harris drew an audience 55 percent larger than Pence’s first veep debate in 2016 (37.2 million) versus Hillary Clinton’s running mate Tim Kaine.

Fox News Channel, projected to lead all cable networks in average total viewers for the week ending Oct. 11, was the debate’s top outlet with 11.5 million viewers. CNN was runner-up on cable with 7.4 million viewers; MSNBC (6.7 million) close behind. 

ABC led the broadcast networks in debate coverage with 9.5 million viewers, followed by NBC (6.5 million), CBS (5.2 million), and the Fox broadcast network (4.1 million).

Telemundo (1.10 million) bested Univision (1.03 million) among the Spanish-language outlets.

The biggest breaking news story from last week (Sep. 28-Oct. 4) occurred in the overnight of Thursday, Oct. 2 when Donald Trump and his wife Melania admitted they had tested positive for the coronavirus. From the moment the news broke (at about 1 a.m. ET on late Oct. 1/early Oct. 2) until 6 a.m. ET Oct. 2, ratings for the three cable news outlets rose considerably from the same time period one week earlier (late Sep. 24/early Sep. 25, 2020) — of course, those networks regularly air reruns of their prime time programs during the overnight:

  • CNN: 1.18 million viewers (+129%); 308,000 adults 25-54 (+148%)
  • MSNBC: 974,000 viewers (+94%); 214,000 adults 25-54 (+152%)
  • Fox News Channel: 947,000 viewers (+28%); 213,000 adults 25-54 (+16%)

Cable news was a continued attraction throughout the day on Friday, Oct. 2 as word came that several more prominent officials who had attended the Sep. 26th Rose Garden ceremony at the White House announcing Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court had also tested positive for COVID-19. The most notable ratings were for prime time (8-11 p.m.) where Fox News, CNN and MSNBC combined for 10.78 million viewers and 2.27 million adults 25-54 — increases of 46 percent and 81 percent, respectively, from Sep. 25 prime time; up 30 percent and 42 percent, respectively, from the special Sep. 18 prime time that featured the news of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s sudden passing.

A combined 11.71 million tuned in to cable news from 9-10 p.m. ET: Fox News’ “Hannity” (4.44 million), MSNBC’s “Rachel Maddow Show” (4.12 million) and CNN’s “Cuomo Prime Time” (3.15 million); this topped the combined three most-watched broadcast network telecasts (11.04 million) within that same hour: ABC’s NBA Finals Game 2: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Miami Heat (5.9 million from 9-10 p.m.), CBS’ “Undercover Boss” season premiere (3.07 million) and Fox’s “WWE Friday Night SmackDown” (2.06 million from 9-10 p.m.)

CNBC saw a 23 percent jump in total viewers from the previous Friday (279,000 on Oct. 2 6 a.m.-8 p.m. vs. 228,000 on Sep. 25 6 a.m.-7 p.m.) as stocks took a brief but significant dip that day due to Trump’s COVID-19 announcement. On a related note, former Fox News anchor Shepard Smith’s new nightly CNBC program “The News” (in the 7-8 p.m. hour) debuted on Sep. 30 to 373,000 viewers. It posted 321,000 viewers on Oct. 1; 331,000 in Oct. 2 — all things considered, “The News with Shepard Smith” is an immediate modest success for the business network based on its aforementioned average viewer figures.

For the week ending Oct. 4, 2020 in total day data (from 6 a.m. to 5:59 a.m. each day), Fox News Channel led the cable news networks in viewers (2.3 million) and adults 25-54 (456,000).

CNN moved in to the runner-up position during the historic news week in both key figures — 1.59 million viewers; 425,000 adults 25-54 (more than doubling its demo output from last week)

MSNBC rose about 50 percent from last week in both key figures: 1.57 million viewers; 279,000 adults 25-54

Top 10 most-watched cable news programs in total viewers:

1. Presidential Debate (FOXNC, Tue. 9/29/2020 9:03 PM, 96 min.) 17.812 million viewers

2. Presidential Debate Coverage (FOXNC, Tue. 9/29/2020 8:50 PM, 13 min.) 12.918 million viewers

3. Presidential Debate/Analysis (FOXNC, Tue. 9/29/2020 10:39 PM, 21 min.) 12.548 million viewers

4. 1st Presidential Debate (CNN, Tue. 9/29/2020 9:04 PM, 95 min.) 8.287 million viewers

5. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Tue. 9/29/2020 8:00 PM, 50 min.) 8.266 million viewers

6. Debate Night In America (CNN, Tue. 9/29/2020 10:39 PM, 21 min.) 8.085 million viewers

7. Debate (MSNBC, Tue. 9/29/2020 9:03 PM, 97 min.) 7.189 million viewers

8. Hannity (FOXNC, Tue. 9/29/2020 11:00 PM, 60 min.) 7.139 million viewers

9. MSNBC Debate Analysis (MSNBC, Tue. 9/29/2020 10:40 PM, 20 min.) 6.954 million viewers

10. Debate Night In America (CNN, Tue. 9/29/2020 11:00 PM, 60 min.) 6.731 million viewers

Top 10 cable news programs among adults 25-54:

1. Presidential Debate (FOXNC, Tue. 9/29/2020 9:03 PM, 96 min.) 5.308 million adults 25-54

2. Presidential Debate/Analysis (FOXNC, Tue. 9/29/2020 10:39 PM, 21 min.) 3.776 million adults 25-54

3. Presidential Debate Coverage (FOXNC, Tue. 9/29/2020 8:50 PM, 13 min.) 3.547 million adults 25-54

4. 1st Presidential Debate (CNN, Tue. 9/29/2020 9:04 PM, 95 min.) 3.524 million adults 25-54

5. Debate Night In America (CNN, Tue. 9/29/2020 10:39 PM, 21 min.) 3.231 million adults 25-54

6. Debate Night In America (CNN, Tue. 9/29/2020 11:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.511 million adults 25-54

7. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Tue. 9/29/2020 8:00 PM, 50 min.) 2.121 million adults 25-54

8. Hannity (FOXNC, Tue. 9/29/2020 11:00 PM, 60 min.) 1.994 million adults 25-54

9. Debate (MSNBC, Tue. 9/29/2020 9:03 PM, 97 min.) 1.726 million adults 25-54

10. MSNBC Debate Analysis (MSNBC, Tue. 9/29/2020 10:40 PM, 20 min.) 1.654 million adults 25-54

News Television

CNN’s Chris Cuomo Accused of Sexual Harassment

“Shelley Ross who worked for ABC News and CBS News alleged Cuomo grabbed her inappropriately at a work party in front of her husband.”

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CNN anchor Chris Cuomo is facing allegations that he sexually harassed a former television producer in a Manhattan bar in 2005.

Shelley Ross who worked for ABC News and CBS News alleged Cuomo grabbed her inappropriately at a work party in front of her husband. Ross made the allegations in New York Times op-ed Friday.

“When Mr. Cuomo entered the Upper West Side bar, he walked toward me and greeted me with a strong bear hug while lowering one hand to firmly grab and squeeze the cheek of my buttock,” she wrote.

Ross served as Cuomo’s executive producer at Primetime Live. The alleged incident occurred while she was serving as the producer of an entertainment special.

 “’I can do this now that you’re no longer my boss,’ he said to me with a kind of cocky arrogance. ‘No you can’t,’ I said, pushing him off me at the chest while stepping back, revealing my husband, who had seen the entire episode at close range. We quickly left.”

Last month, Cuomo’s older brother Andrew, resigned as New York’s Governor following a barrage of sexual misconduct accusations.

Cuomo gave a statement to Ross for her column: “As Shelley acknowledges, our interaction was not sexual in nature. It happened 16 years ago in a public setting when she was a top executive at ABC. I apologized to her then, and I meant it.”

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News Television

“Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” Renewed For a Seventh Season

“Full Frontal” continues to be a solid draw for TBS as its current season averages 2.9 million viewers per episode across all platforms.

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As Jimmy Kimmel ponders his future as a late-night host and James Corden discusses a new contract with CBS, WarnerMedia is locking its late-night host Samantha Bee. 

Deadline reported that the cable network picked up the seventh season of “Full Frontal,” scheduled to air in 2022. 

Furthermore, with “All Elite Wrestling: Dynamite” moving from TNT to TBS in January, the show is transitioning to Thursdays, away from its long-time Wednesday night slot. 

“I’m beyond excited to be returning to TBS for a seventh season,” said Bee. “Now we have enough seasons for you to binge one every day of the week. I warned you I was tenacious.”

“Full Frontal” continues to be a solid draw for TBS as its current season averages 2.9 million viewers per episode across all platforms.

“Shining a spotlight on important issues and people, Sam provides needed commentary and asks questions of authority and ourselves that need to be asked,” TBS, TNT, and TruTV general manager Brett Weitz said. 

“But most of all, Sam is just funny and makes me laugh out loud each week. I’m thrilled she will continue to call TBS home.”

Along with extending the show for its seventh season, TBS renewed a first-look deal with Bee’s production company, Swimsuit Competition, which aims to discover new talent and give support and exposure to their ideas.

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News Television

Meghan Rafferty Named NBC Nightly News’ Executive Producer

Since Suozzo left in August, Rafferty has served as the interim executive producer and her regular duties as the senior broadcast producer of the program.

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“NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt” will have a new executive producer as Meghan Rafferty is taking over the position left vacant following the departure of Jenn Suozzo. 

Since Suozzo left in August, Rafferty has served as the interim executive producer and her regular duties as the senior broadcast producer of the program. Still, it seems as though NBC News wants to remove the temporary label and hand the position to Rafferty.

Deadline relayed the memo of the appointment sent to NBC News staffers by NBC News President Noah Oppenheim. 

“Meghan has done a phenomenal job at the helm of the newscast during the last month,” Oppenheim wrote. “She is a respected, trusted, exemplary leader with the keen news instincts and innovative vision that have been a huge part of Nighty’s recent successes and, in this new role, will help propel the broadcast to the next level.”

“As Senior Broadcast Producer, Meghan has stepped up time and time again. She skillfully led the team through the unique challenges we faced during the onset of the pandemic and became a steadfast presence in the control room during those early days of uncertainty.”

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