President Donald Trump’s non-stop Twitter messages, highly controversial management style and near-constant headline-making news-flow, has been wonderful for the USA’s cable news channels.
Taken together, the ‘big three’ news channels of CNN, Fox News and MSNBC have enjoyed spectacular ratings, up 33 per cent on the same period last year for the first week of June. Last week’s James Comey (former director of the FBI) hearings and testimony took the overall ratings for the major networks into stratospheric levels (19.5 million homes according to Nielsen) which is huge for a ‘daytime’ event.
The Comey testimony also drove hits onto Google’s YouTube service (YouTube reported nearly 800,000 peak concurrent viewers across streams from 20 news outlets during his appearance). Ten channels covered the testimony live.
Of course, it isn’t just Trump that’s helping with ratings. Terrorist outrages and the British election fiasco have also helped deliver viewers to the TV news channels. Various experts say that the current interest in TV news is better now than for the past many years, and Fox News’ own troubles over alleged sexual impropriety and high-profile dismissals have also helped draw viewers.
And with high ratings come high dollars. Most broadcasters do not make public their individual channel performance numbers, or revenues, including Time Warner’s CNN. But TW boss Jeff Bewkes told Variety magazine that CNN was on track to produce more than $1 billion in profit this year, and $100 million in digital revenues.