Cuomo’s show on NewsNation sees slightly better ratings

A still frame from a broadcast of "Cuomo" on Nexstar's NewsNation.
A still frame from a broadcast of “Cuomo” on Nexstar’s NewsNation. (Image via NewsNation broadcast, Graphic by The Desk)

Cable news personality Chris Cuomo’s newly-minted NewsNation program saw slightly higher ratings for its second episode, with just under 200,000 households tuning in to his program on Tuesday.

Preliminary figures released by Nielsen Media Research showed Cuomo improved in overall viewers and with viewers between the ages of 25 and 54 years old, a key demographic for cable news advertisers.

The data shows around 193,000 households tuned in to watch some or all of “Cuomo” on NewsNation Tuesday evening, up from 147,000 viewers for his inaugural broadcast one day earlier.

Cuomo beat “Eric Bolling: The Balance” on conservative-leaning Newsmax, but still lagged far behind programs aired on Fox News Channel, MSNBC and CNN.

On Tuesday, Cuomo told viewers he would start the program fast with several rapid-fire topics, then take things slow as the show progressed. As he did on Monday, Cuomo promised to cover several topics of importance and interest, including Hurricane Ian, the protests in Iran and the ongoing war in Ukraine — then, just as he did on Monday, he barely covered any of those topics.

The episode saw interviews with three nurses who complained that healthcare organizations did not do enough to support them during the pandemic, though they offered no specific grievances. Cuomo allowed the nurses plenty of time to air their vague complaints, but never explored any potential solutions to those problems.

Cuomo also did not invite any executives from leading healthcare organizations to comment on the grievances. Instead, he told viewers those executives would be invited at a later date, and if they declined his invitation, he would “expose them,” whatever that means.

The broadcast also saw a lengthy and rambling interview with sports podcaster Stephen A. Smith, who was asked various questions about injuries in the National Football League and an ongoing scandal brewing in the world of women’s professional soccer. The conversation was largely uninspiring, resembling what two friends might discuss over drinks at a local Chili’s, but within the constraints of time (there are commercial breaks to get to, after all).

Cuomo also aired the second part of his interview with comedian Bill Maher, which was taped Friday evening at the conclusion of Maher’s HBO program. The discussion centered mostly around politics, with Maher repeating the same kind of rhetoric that he offers during “Real Time.”

At one point, Cuomo noted that Maher was nominated for several Emmy awards, but often lost to other satire late night shows like “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,” which airs on HBO two days after Maher’s program. Maher largely shrugged off the comparison, saying his lack of awards was a consequence of speaking his truth.

The program ended with Cuomo taking calls from two viewers, one of whom was a registered nurse. He then tossed to legal pundit Dan Abrams, whose show airs immediately after “Cuomo” on NewsNation. Abrams complained at length that the executives at NewsNation took weeks to get him a coffee mug branded with his show’s name, while Cuomo seemed to get his coffee mug in just a matter of days.

The second program repeated many of the same issues as the first, in that it appeared to lack any structure. Instead, Cuomo took many opportunities to promise viewers that he would hold people to account and stay on top of stories that matter — and then spent practically no time doing any of that.

While more viewers did take a curious look at the broadcast compared to Monday evening, the majority of cable news audiences decided to stick with more-interesting and better-produced programs on Fox News, MSNBC and CNN.

Cuomo not only owes his audiences better, he owes his new bosses better, too: Nexstar took a leap of faith on Cuomo after he was fired for violating CNN’s journalistic ethics earlier this year. At NewsNation, Cuomo is getting a second chance to reinvent the cable news program in a way that is both interesting and informative. So far, he has failed to achieve both of those things. But the show is still fresh, and the first few episodes of any program are typically rough around the edges. It takes weeks for a program to find its rhythm.

Still, Cuomo is no rookie — he knows what works and what doesn’t, and he needs to deliver.