CNN’s Brian Stelter hits another yearly low in key demo as Fox News thrives

Media top headlines May 18

Sen. Tom Cotton saying the Associated Press has to account for working in the same building as Hamas and more round out today’s top media headlines.

CNN’s beleaguered “Reliable Sources” with Brian Stelter failed to draw one million total viewers Sunday for the seventh consecutive week, while Fox News has finished as the most-watched cable news network among both total day and primetime viewers for 13 straight weeks.  

Chubby Checker’s 1963 hit “How Low Can You Go?” was about the limbo, but it could double as Stelter’s theme music these days. “Reliable Sources” has set yearly lows on a weekly basis, as the left-wing media program continues to struggle in the Biden era. 

Brian Stelter’s "Reliable Sources" has set yearly lows on a weekly basis, as the left-wing media program continues to struggle. (Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Vanity Fair)
(Getty images)

Stelter’s show averaged a dismal 122,000 viewers among the key demo of adults age 25-54 on May 16, its smallest audience of the year in the important category. It was also Stelter’s third-smallest audience of the year among total viewers, finishing slightly up from 810,000 total viewers that tuned in for the show’s smallest audience of the year on May 2.

Stelter’s “Reliable Sources” averaged only 836,000 total viewers compared to 1.8 million for Fox News’ “MediaBuzz” with Howie Kurtz, which is its direct timeslot competition. “MediaBuzz” averaged 216,000 in the demo, topping Stelter’s program by nearly 100,000 in the category most coveted by advertisers. 

While Stelter’s program continues to struggle, Fox News finished the week of May 10-16 with its greatest percentage advantage over CNN and MSNBC since the 2020 election. 

Fox News was the only network to average more than one million total viewers, finishing the week with an average of 1.3 million. MSNBC averaged 833,000 to finish second and CNN finished third with 638,000. FNC also finished atop the key demo by averaging 221,000 viewers age 25-54 to become the only cable news network to post double-digit increases across the board among total day viewers versus the previous week. 

Fox News averaged 2.3 million primetime viewers during the week of May 10, while MSNBC finished second with an average of 1.5 million. HGTV was the only other network to surpass the one-million viewer plateau, as CNN settled for fourth place with an average of 932,000 primetime viewers. 

“Tucker Carlson Tonight” was the most-watched cable news programs among both total viewers and the demo, while “Hannity” topped MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” in both categories. 

“Reliable Sources” isn’t the only show dragging CNN down, as “New Day” had its lowest-rated week of the year among total viewers. CNN recently revamped the struggling morning show with new co-host Brianna Keilar but has continued to lag as “Fox & Friends” more than doubled the show’s viewership. 

CNN also struggled with new series “The Story of Late Night,” which had its worst week ever by drawing only 862,000 viewers. However, Fox News’ “Gutfeld!” proves that not all recently launched programing is a flop. 

“Gutfeld!” had its best week yet, averaging 1.6 million viewers to beat ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” along with CNN and MSNBC’s timeslot competitors. 

All data courtesy of Nielsen Media Research. 

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