Glenn Beck’s Ratings: Headline Snooze

When CNN announced the hiring of radio talk jock Glenn Beck almost two years ago, they used words like “cordial,” “conversational” and “not confrontational” to describe him. What they delivered was the polar opposite of that, as has been well documented by Media Matters. Despite CNN’s laughable depiction of Beck as “Miss Congeniality,” they knew exactly the sort of piffle they were peddling. Their programming strategy stated at the time was to…

“…build Beck into the type of TV personality that could siphon viewers from Bill O’Reilly, Joe Scarborough and other conservative hosts.”

They failed.

Beck’s ratings for November 2007 (25-54 demo) reveal a program on life support. At this point the humane thing to do would be to pull the plug and put Beck (and innocent TV viewers) out of their misery.

As shown here, Beck loses to all of his competitors in cable news. Both his live show and his repeat come in 4th out of four programs. That doesn’t leave much for him to brag about.

But that’s not the end of his problems. While Beck is unable to challenge his competition, he is also the weakest link on his own network.

On this chart you can see that the two lowest rated hours on Headline News belong to Beck. He is a TV anchor who is performing like a ship’s anchor and weighing down the network’s line-up.

This is not a case of Headline News being a less widely distributed network. Both Nancy Grace and Showbiz Tonight would either beat or play competitively against MSNBC’s schedule. Grace would even threaten CNN’s Lou Dobbs were she in the time slot.

These numbers demonstrate an inherent weakness that is specific to Beck. This is confirmed by looking at his year-to-year performance which is virtually flat. Beck’s audience in the demo for November 2006 was 148K (live) and 142K (repeat). That is essentially unchanged for 2007. For the same time period Grace’s numbers improved 20% (live), and 15% (repeat). Showbiz Tonight added 34% over their 2006 showing. So Beck is not only the poorest performer against his competition, he cannot even keep up with the growth on his own network.

It is also notable that Beck’s unpopularity seems to be confined to his television persona. In other media he is still a figure to be reckoned with. He is a top five talk radio host (last month he re-signed with Premiere Networks for $50 million) and he currently has a book on the New York Times Bestseller list. He certainly has fans who are able to find and consume his products elsewhere. So the fact that Beck can’t parlay his other media successes into something better than a washout on TV illustrates just how deeply unappealing he is as a television personality.

Glenn Beck WeakFor more evidence of this you just need to look back at the week Beck filled in for Paula Zahn last July. Despite moving up to CNN from Headline News, Beck barely scraped up the viewers he routinely got at his less-watched network home, Headline News. And he underperformed Zahn, who was canceled for poor ratings, by a whopping 23%

Clearly Beck has not lived up to the expectations CNN expressed when they hired him. And his performance over time suggests that there is not much reason to believe that he will improve. A responsible programmer would be seeking to cut their losses. And it’s not as if they don’t have a broad variety of AAA players that could be called up: Ed Schultz, Randi Rhodes, Thom Hartmann, Rachel Maddow, Stephanie Miller, Sam Seder, Taylor Marsh, Jim Hightower, Laura Flanders, Harry Shearer, or any other of the many distinguished progressive commentators. They could even draft their own Jack Cafferty who has developed a cult following on The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.

You would think that the programming honchos at the network would be furiously grooming Beck’s replacement. Why wouldn’t they? They can’t blame Beck’s subterranean ratings on a generalized lack of interest because Beck excels in other media markets. They can’t be holding out for a sudden audience surge because there’s been no evidence of him connecting on that level in the past. They can’t believe that a racist, uninformed, arrogant host with a juvenile sense of humor is the next big thing in broadcasting because Fox News already has that market cornered and their ratings are sinking like a stone. And somebody at CNN must surely have noticed the soaring ascendancy of Keith Olbermann’s Countdown on MSNBC. It’s also worth noting that Dan Abrams’ new program, retooled to take a more aggressively honest approach to the news, is kicking Beck’s butt even though it is only a few weeks old.

So what is CNN waiting for? Are they masochistic gluttons for punishment who get pleasure from losing? Are they married to the repulsive and repudiated ideology spewed by Beck? Are they frightened, ineffectual, corporate bootlickers who couldn’t make a proper programming decision without a sackful of surveys and permission from their supervisor? It is just this simple: There is no business case for keeping Beck on the air. His program is a money pit and it’s fiscally harmful to the programs adjacent to it and, therefore, the network as a whole.

The only reason to give Beck a stay of execution would be fealty to the brand of caveman conservatism that he espouses. If CNN doesn’t cancel this stinker they will have settled, once and for all, the speculation as to whether they are a compromised media lapdog with an agenda aimed at placating the powerful and debasing journalism.

It’s time to pull the plug. Let CNN/Headline News know that Glenn Beck has to go. Let them know that you’re on to them and that keeping a loser like Beck reveals their biases. Let them know that you’re more interested in news and honest commentary than shallow contrarianism. Let them know that, although CNN has an obligation to provide diverse viewpoints, they have never had a program hosted by a progressive. And let them know that you have alternatives now (i.e. MSNBC, radio, the Internet, etc.) and you will not continue to watch CNN as long as it fails to provide programming that is honest, ethical and relevant to you, your community and your country.

CNN General Comments Form
Headline News General Comments Form


43 thoughts on “Glenn Beck’s Ratings: Headline Snooze

  1. I can’t recall the source, but I thought I heard that some nepotism was at work in keeping him on the teevee. I wish I had a brain so I could remember the specifics. I could even be entirely wrong, which would qualify me for an anchor position at Faux.

    • You may be thinking about Tucker Carlson whose father was Richard Warner Carlson, a former U.S. ambassador, director of the U.S. Information Agency, and president of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. He is currently Vice Chairman of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a pro-war, right-wing think tank whose Board of Advisors includes Gary Bauer, Bill Kristol, Zell Miller, and Richard Perle.

      I previously wrote an article about Tucker’s program that is also mired in the pits of ratings hell.

      It’s funny how these guys don’t get canceled when their ratings stink, but MSNBC canceled Phil Donahue when he was the #1 program on their network.

  2. The Donahue firing was a disgrace. In the end, the truth won out in the form of Keith Olbermann and his overwhelming ratings victories. But you never hear any MSNBC exec talking about what happened to Donahue. It’s like it never happened. Poof – down the memory hole…

    • So true. People in the biz don’t discuss their mistakes. If they did it would take up ALL of their time.

      And thanks for the C&L Round Up.

  3. It’s funnier to keep Beck around, just to remind us all how far we’ve come since 2000.

  4. you know it might be beck is still on just to make pucker carlson look better who would actually wanna see pucker cry on T.V for his low rateings

    well me for one lol


  5. Hmm… wonder if you put on any show in duplicate airing three hours a night how well the ratings would do at any given time? LOL!! Yeah… They’d be great! 😉

  6. So a liberal network like CNN hires a conservative talk show host (ohhh the fairness doctrine), then you whine that he has the lowest ratings and that serves as justification to fire him? What do you expect?

    I’m sure the ‘Rush Limbaugh Hour’ on Air America would have pretty low ratings as well.

    • “…a liberal network like CNN” ???

      That delusion just makes me laugh. CNN has NEVER had a program hosted by a liberal. On the other side there is Beck, Nancy Grace, Lou Dobbs, Robert Novak, etc. Their new host Campbell Brown is the wife of former Bush communications aide, Dan Senor.

      Comparing CNN to Air American is just plain dumb.

  7. Glenn Beck is my #1 favorite program… even though it is on the liberal CNN network.

    And Mark, your comments made me laugh. Mark, if you don’t think CNN is liberal then you must be left of Obama. You must live between NY and Washington DC—because only someone from that region of the country would not consider CNN a liberal network. Mark, you need to take a trip to the “fly over country” to get a clearer definition of “liberal”.

  8. I can’t believe you have taken the best show off of the tele. Glen Beck was the brightest star u had shining. A person who showed all sides of an issue. Granted not everything he had to say I agreed with, but I appreciated his delivery. Honest and balanced reporting which is very unusual in today’s age. Does this mean I am stuck with Bill O’Reily? Oh great!

    Ciao CNN!

  9. Me and my family even the kids like Glenn Beck and thought he should run for president. We absolutely love Glenn Beck and all the guest he has on the show. To let him go is to let America down. He is unique and funny and we watch him every night. We like him better than Oreilly and Hannity. I usually watch Greta van sustern, Nancy Grace and Glenn Beck. Please don’t tell me he is no longer with Headline News. I think I will cry!@

    • President? Really? Glenn Beck? {{{shudder}}}

      I feel sorry for your family if you really believe that. But there’s no need to cry. You will still be able to watch him on Fox News, where he belongs.

  10. CNN isn’t liberal at all and this blog is totally unbias. Glenn Beck is a huge loser who sucks & stuff. Fox news has horrible ratings and Keith Olberman is #1. Liberals never lie and would never think of assassinating someones character. I feel bad for peoples families because they have different view points than I. Liberals believe in freedom of speech even for conservatives.

    beep beep beep…… that my alarm? I’m glad i’m awake now. Boy was that a bad dream! Ahhhhh, the real world.

  11. Randy,

    Get the facts, pal. Here’s some stats to shut you up- From Nielsen:
    Live + Same Day Cable News Daily Ratings for October 29 2008

    P2+ Total Day
    FNC – 1,679,000 viewers
    CNN –1,147,000 viewers
    MSNBC –1,086,000 viewers
    CNBC – 311,000 viewers
    HLN – 326,000 viewers

    P2+ Prime Time
    FNC – 3,660,000 viewers
    CNN –2,266,000 viewers
    MSNBC–3,063,000 viewers
    CNBC –157,000 viewers
    HLN – 715,000 viewers

    That’s just for one day, but if you feel like checking out all the days (they pretty much look the same for as far back as you want to go…), you can go to tvbythenumbers(dot)com.

    And as a responsed to your comment “Liberals believe in freedom of speech, even for conservative..”- Riiiiight-, that’s why when a conservative speaks up like Joe the Plumber or the reporter from Orlando, they get SMEARED through the mud in an effort to discredit them.

    In fact, it’s the complete opposite. Your liberal democratic party wants to envoke the “freedom act” again – which would pretty much silence any opposition from the right.

    Nice try.

    • It’s time to increase your medication, David.

      First of all, Randy was obviously being sarcastic. You are castigating someone who is on your side. Secondly, you are both barely comprehensible. And neither of you even attempt to refute the facts in this article. But what else should I expect from people who defend Beck and admire Joe the Plumber?

  12. I’m not sure there are many facts in this article. At least I could not find them through all of the bias.

    Who does this Joe Plumber think he is anyway. Speaking his mind, what a nazi. He must hate black people.

    • If you can’t find facts in the article above, you can’t find feathers in a pillow factory. I write a lot of opinion pieces, but this aint one of those. It contains opinion, but it is primarily factual. Obviously, you just want to avoid making a rebuttal because you don’t have one.

      As for Joe the Fraud, I have no problem with him speaking his mind, but I do have a problem with him being elevated to some sort of American hero and role model (as McCain referred to him). He’s got his own opinion and he’s entitled to it, but why would anyone seek his advise on economics or foreign policy? And his t”tap dancing / Sammy Davis” remark directed at Obama does smell of racism.

  13. He is a complete and total moron. He is a joke. He is the biggest blowhard, bowzer, recovering alcoholic fascist hater. “I use to be an alcoholic, whats wrong with you people don’t you get it.”
    NO we don’t get why you have appeared on national televison. You should commit suicide as a favor to mankind. I am dead serious. You are the most worthless personality to ever have graced the stage of tinseltown. Please go away and die.


    • Thanks Tony. I agree with your astute and articulate assessment of Mr. Beck.

  15. Anyone check Glenn Beck’s ratings recently?

    Probably not anyone around here, as you’re fixated on the Obama love fests on MSNBC and CNN.

    Read ’em and weep, folks.
    Glenn Beck is kicking your collective asses.

  16. Yep he sure is and he isn’t even on in prime time or have a repeat show. So nice to have Glenn back and away from CNN. He has integrity and is one of the only people in the mainstream telling it like it is. He understands what a Constitutional Republic is about and why it’s so dangerous to give the state control of your lives instead of governing yourselves.

    We are headed for a depression folks and it’s going to get rough. I can only hope the cool aid drinkers realize that they have given away their country for a few amenities and they will come to regret it when the government controls so much of their life and they slave away for a few bankers an

    You will long for the days when you actually had personally liberty to live your life the way you wanted not the way the government wants you to live it.

    Reed and weep comrads!

    TUES NITE, FEB 11, 2009

    FOXNEWS O’REILLY 3,494,000
    FOXNEWS HANNITY 2,658,000
    FOXNEWS BECK 2,370,000
    FOXNEWS BAIER 2,305,000
    FOXNEWS SHEP 2,190,000
    FOXNEWS GRETA 1,847,000
    CNN KING 1,761,000
    MSNBC OLBERMANN 1,485,000
    CNN COOPER 1,286,000
    CNN BLITZER 1,246,000
    MSNBC MADDOW 1,240,000

  17. “…build Beck into the type of TV personality that could siphon viewers from Bill O’Reilly, Joe Scarborough and other conservative hosts.”

    hey guess what? They were right… OOPS!

  18. please send glenn’s fax #

    thank you

  19. Mark, could you perhaps do a graphic with a foot inserted into your mouth, as you were apparently dead wrong about Beck’s ratings “weakness”.

  20. Two things, I think, played into Beck’s lower ratings over at CNN and explain hit BLitz over at Fox.

    #1-CNN would not give him complete control of his show’s content. On the radio, where Beck was free to say and do what he wanted, he was/is successful. Beck has been outspoken about how when he first had talks with Fox about switching, he made it clear that he wanted free reign to cover whatever topics and events that he wanted and so far they have been willing to that even when it looks like rating suicide, but instead, it’s created an army of faithful watchers who find his honest approach respectable.

    #2-Beck is unbridled, which kind of goes along with the first assesment, but honestly, Beck wasn’t as wild then as he is now. He was never as fired up, never as pasionate, didn’t cry as much, etc. But something has snapped inside Beck (I believe-in a good way). He is no longer quiet about his real opinion, he feels free to be satirical, funny, angry, sad, etc. SOme people might find that annoying in a commentator, but I find it refreshing. Beck doesn’t care about what others have to say to him. He LIVES the great line from Hamlet; “To Thine own self be true.”

    I like Anderson Cooper, but he’s never going to really show his temperment about an issue and sometimes I just want to feel like the commentator I’m watching is as upset as I am! If I just want my news reported-I can watch my local news. I watch cable news because I want a little more passion.

    Either way, your article misjudged Beck. he is a powerhouse!

  21. I love reading liberal bashings of Beck and how terrible his ratings supposedly were… when he’s absolutely trouncing everyone else now.

    You socialists just can’t stand it when someone tells it how it is and gets and audience while doing so. It makes you sick to see people thinking for themselves.

    • I love reading comments posted on articles I wrote a year and a half ago that were 100% true at the time, but the commenter has no idea what he’s talking about.

      Beck’s ratings were abysmal on HLN. And by pointing that out I was hoping to to get HLN to cancel him. Well, I got what I wanted. He is now embedded in the safe arms of Fox News where he can’t hurt anyone because only demented souls like you watch it. And yes, there are a lot of you, but at least you’re quarantined.

      And what is it with all the childish name calling? Is that just a genetic thing with you right-wingers, or are you all actually twelve years old?

  22. Wow! Reading this post really opens my eyes! I didn’t realize that Olberman was doing that great. Beck only has 3 million viewers compared to Olbermans outstanding 1 million! If you apply Obamanomics to it I guess that’s good for MSLSD I mean MSNBC! Or if you apply reality to then I guess Olberman and liberals just suck.

    • Ordinarily I wouldn’t reply to such an ignorant comment, but I just need to point this out.

      How stupid does one have to be to read an article on TV ratings that’s almost two years old and think it applies to the present? Everything I wrote back then about Beck’s dismal failure on HLN was true. But Shane lives in the same fantasy land as the rest of Beck’s disciples.

  23. Ok, ok, ok….I was just having a little fun! I didn’t mean any harm. I just thought the contrast of his ratings back then and his ratings now was a little funny. I realize he’s on the number one rated news channel and that has attributed to his enormous ratings. However, I do believe that given the current situation of the democrats being in almost total power, the losing group tends to wake up and gain momentum. Especially now with the current admin rushing so fast to socialism. We were asleep. We rolled over. We lost our voice, we tend to cling to the one who has the loudest voice. Beck has a loud voice and he has the ability to ignite the passion we once had. He’s also funny.

    • Indeed, Beck has a loud voice, but the only thing he ignites is hostility through lies. And funny? Sure, if you think playing with toys, making silly faces and nonsense gurgling noises repeatedly is funny. He’s a combination of Carrot Top and Jerry Lewis. Maybe the French would like him.

      • You are a reporter, correct? And this position demands that you are literate and have some type of formal education, correct? Did you stop thinking critically and suspend the individual search for truth? If you were the least bit curious or honest you would devote some time and gray cells to research the crew that inhabits our White House.
        You may not like the way Beck delivers his message… but the data on his show is far more current and correct than anything Overbite has ever produced. The truth hurts when it offends those who would choose to cling to “hope” that this President is anything more than a puppet failure rejected from the private sector, who was merely chosen to captain this ship right into an iceberg. The whole lot in Congress and the Fed are not fit to walk my dog.
        Grow a pair, crack a book, and stand up to tyranny…. your liberty is at risk.

  24. Hostility through lies? What lies? Mark, you took a snapshot in time two years ago, then danced around it with glee. Now that the ratings have reversed, you can’t do anything but demonize and ridicule anybody that point out that fact to you. It is lefty arrogants like yourself that just keep throwing fuel on the hatred fire because you have convinced yourselves that you and folks like yourself are more intellgent than those who disagree with you.

    I predict Beck will continue to rise in popularity and dickheads like Olberman will continue to fade into the woodwork, kicking and screaming like the whiny babies that they really are. “That Dick Cheney is a bad,bad,meany man”

  25. What lies? I read a lot of talk about supposed lies Beck has made, but what are they? His words spark controversy, to be sure – but saying he is a liar does not make him one.

    So, what are the lies? What has he said this week that is untrue?

    • Every word that comes out of Beck’s mouth is a lie, including “and” and “the.”

      This week he said that Van Jones is a communist. That’s a lie. He said Obama is forming a civilian military force. That’s a lie. He said that the government is planning to reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine (or something like it) in order to suppress the speech of conservatives. That’s a lie.

      And that’s just off the top of my head.

      • Mark,

        What do you have against the facts? Don’t you realize this Republic is in the very throws of being destroyed? Our founding fathers created a nation like no other nation in every imagined by Man. That all Man (and Woman) can be free. Our Government (Rep and Dems) are trying to take our very freedom. Don’t you feel it in gut? That our government is wrong! That they have too much control! Thomas Jefferson said “When people fear the government is tyranny but when a government fears the people it is freedom”. Please, just look at the facts!

      • LOLOLOL “or something like it” lololol do you ever watch him or are you just getting your info from the Koolaid drinking media? Maybe you should tune in instead of sounding like a CNN MSNBC PUPPET!

  26. Hey Glenn…how about identifying the companies that have said they are boycotting your show so that 3M of us fans can stop spending our hard earned money with these companies.

  27. Hey Mark.. You are correct those ratings are from 18 months ago, so why not do a story on his current ratings surge, Oh thats right now that the numbers dont support your views you ignore them. Then you want to have respect as a reporter and you generalize by saying “everything” GB says is a lie, problem is recently he has said very little, he just plays tapes so we can here/watch the actual words of Van Jones and ACORN reps. Do you look into that or just attack the messenger.

    In his own words the President said early in the race “you want to know who i am look at those around me. Believe me we are.

    • I have written many articles on Beck’s current ratings. Does this mean you respect me now?

      And thanks for the laugh about Beck saying very little. There is no TV pundit that yammers more than Beck. He often doesn’t even have any guests. It’s just him blabbering. And when he shows clips of others (i.e. Van Jones) he heavily edits them to distort the meaning.

Comments are closed.