Erin Burnett has lost 30% of her viewers since her debut a week ago Monday.Burnett’s premiere show drew 535,000 total viewers and 215,000 demo viewers (25-54), which put her ahead of MSNBC’s “Hardball.”
One week later, Monday’s episode drew 370,000 total viewers and 99,000 in the demo. As Yahoo notes, that’s a 31 per cent decline in total viewers and a 54 per cent drop in 25-to-54-year-olds.
Those are not exactly out front numbers.
Before any speculation about why this might be, a couple of things worth noting: It’s early days.
Viewership always drops off after the first show and/or the first week.
CNN’s entire primetime line-up was way down on Monday.
Burnett bounced back somewhat Tuesday night posting 586,000 and 135,000 respectively. And the 11 pm repeat of her show (8pm on the West Coast) posted CNN’s highest ratings of the entire night and beat Lawrence O’Donnell’s rerun.
That said, her average demo rating for the week following her premiere (Tuesday over Tuesday) is 129,000, which is still less than spectacular and more importantly leaves her trailing a fair distance behind MSNBC.
But here’s the (much, much) bigger problem. Burnett has failed to define her show.
Or I should say, Burnett has failed to define her show beyond her disastrous visit to the Wall St. Occupiers early last week, which infuriated just about everyone, and garnered her one of the more brutal television reviews in recent memory.
And because viewers had no sense of her show (or her, for that matter) prior to that, that segment has now come to define her and her show to CNN viewers who may not have been familiar with Burnett’s work on CNBC prior to this. Even though she is covering plenty of other stuff.
Moreover, as the Occupy movement continues to grow and dominate the news cycle it’s hard to imagine Burnett could have gotten off to a worse start, or missed a bigger opportunity to be the early, go-to source for news about the protesters.
Meanwhile, her actual show since then is more or less the same general news show one can find at most hours of the day on CNN, meaning if you miss John King at 6, and Burnett at 7, you can catch up on much of the same content at 8 with Anderson. Why bother tuning in? Until CNN answers that question, it’s hard to imagine these ratings getting better anytime soon.
Why Burnett and CNN chose to go with a general news format as opposed to a business show aimed at a general audience (Erin explains the economy) is unclear. Not only would the latter have played to her strengths it would have filled a mostly empty, but clearly much-need niche in the mainstream landscape.
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