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Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Why Cuomo's ratings did not save him

CNN suspended Chris Cuomo for helping Andrew Cuomo's sexual harassment and his killing of 15,000 people by putting covid patients in nursing homes.

On Saturday, CNN fired Chris Cuomo for his own sexual harassment. He learned as Bill O'Reilly did that ratings matter very little. Both had the No. 1 show on their news channel. Both got canned.

Advertising boycotts, however, failed to dislodge Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity because their ratings matter.

Confused?

Don't be. Ratings on cable TV matter but for reasons that have little to do with advertising.

Which is bigger, $628,300,000 or $1,005,400,000?

The first number is how much advertising money CNN collected last year while the latter is how much it collected in fees from cable subscribers. The latter is money they collect from people who never watch CNN as it is part of their cable bill. 

Advertising is based on the ratings for a particular show.

Cable fees are based on overall ratings for a channel. It's brand.

Dumping Cuomo or O'Reilly mattered little because the drop in ratings for their shows meant a small loss in advertising. Both channels wanted to save their brand, so they dumped men who harass women.

Ah, but firing Carlson or Hannity over content would have hurt the brand and could have jeopardized overall ratings and the cable fees they generate.

Dumping Glenn Beck over content, however, proved to be a good move by Fox. His ratings at 5 PM were prime-time level. But Roger Ailes had enough with his lunacy and replaced him with "The Five," which draws prime-time audiences without the quackery.

Cable channels are cash cows.

CNN's profits last year were $714,700,000,

Fox's profits last year were $1,795,500,000.

MSNBC's profits last year were $575,300,000.

Nothing lasts forever. People are dumping cable for streaming services because cable fees are so high. To its credit, CNN is adapting to the situation its own rapaciousness helped create.

On July 19, CNN announced, "CNN is hiring hundreds of people and developing dozens of programs for a subscription streaming service that will launch early next year.

"The new venture, called CNN+, was formally announced on Monday morning. It will exist side by side with CNN's existing television networks and will feature eight to twelve hours of live programming a day.

"Jeff Zucker, the chairman of WarnerMedia News and Sports and president of CNN Worldwide, portrayed CNN+ as the evolution of video news and the start of a new era for the company."

Good move. Unlike cable, people will pay for what they want.

The moral of the story of Cuomo and O'Reilly is that on cable news, content does not matter. Behavior does. Oddly enough, I believe that is how things should work. Say what you want, but be careful in what you do.