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Chris Cuomo wants to change time slots, report says

A still frame from the opening reel of Chris Cuomo's NewsNation program "Cuomo."
A still frame from the opening reel of Chris Cuomo’s NewsNation program “Cuomo.” (Image via NewsNation broadcast, Graphic by The Desk)

NewsNation’s start political commentator Chris Cuomo has reportedly asked for the cable network to change his time slot, according to a report.

On Sunday, the New York Post cited unnamed sources within the Nexstar Media Group-owned cable channel who purportedly said that Cuomo believes a different time slot will spur higher ratings for his namesake prime-time news and opinion program.

“Cuomo” airs weekdays at 8 p.m. Eastern Time (5 p.m. Pacific Times) and typically averages well below 200,000 overall viewers, according to Nielsen ratings. His first show on October 4 drew 147,000 overall viewers, Nielsen data showed. While ratings improved slightly through the run of his first week, he has not managed to grab more than 200,000 viewers two consecutive nights in a row.

It is a far cry from the one million-plus viewers Cuomo was able to bring to CNN, where his prime-time program was the highest on the network and often among the top 10 prime-time shows on all cable news channels. (Shows on the Fox News Channel are typically the highest-rated in both overall viewership and key demographics.)

NewsNation hired Cuomo several months after he was fired from CNN in connection with a political scandal involving his brother, former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Nexstar executives felt Cuomo’s CNN audience would naturally follow him to NewsNation, something that has yet to fully materialize.

While Cuomo opened his first few sets of shows by promising to cover news of interest and importance, he has done little to fulfill that promise; instead, many of his on-air guests have been largely uninteresting, and his interviews come across as superficial.

According to the New York Post, Cuomo believes switching up NewsNation’s prime-time schedule could help improve ratings. He recently held a discussion with NewsNation’s president to request the 9 p.m. Eastern (6 p.m Pacific) time slot, currently occupied by media and legal analyst Dan Abrams, the Post reported.

A NewsNation executive reportedly told the Post that their sources provided the newspaper “completely, totally, 100 percent inaccurate” information.

Switching time slots with Abrams may not do much to improve ratings: According to Nielsen data, NewsNation pulls in even fewer viewers at 9 p.m., with Nielsen data showing anywhere from 50,000 to 100,000 overall viewers tuning in to Abrams’ show.

NewsNation launched in the cable and satellite channel slot once allocated to WGN America, Nexstar’s general entertainment channel. Syndicated programming, including “Blue Bloods,” continues to air during the daytime hours, sandwiched between NewsNation’s morning and evening news shows. According to the Post, Blue Bloods repeats often draw higher ratings than any of the news programs.

Despite low ratings, Nexstar executives claim everything is fine at NewsNation, and that the channel is generating money for the largest owner of local television stations in the country.

“It has been profitable since day one,” Tom Carter, Nexstar’s chief operating officer, said last month. “If NewsNation were a television station, it would be our most-profitable television station.”

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 10 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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