CNN’s Climate Change Town Hall Gets Good Reviews, Flops in Ratings With a Last Place Finish in Every Hour


CNN’s seven hour climate-themed town hall proved to be a fascinating forum on an important subject which produced a number of compelling moments. And yet you, cable news superfan, most likely didn’t watch it.

According to data from Nielsen, CNN averaged 1,091,000 total viewers during the time period between 5:00 p.m. and midnight ET during which the town hall aired, and 265,000 in the advertiser-coveted adults 25-54 demographic. That landed the network in third place, behind MSNBC (second, with 1.6 million total viewers) and Fox News (first, with 2.4 million total viewers).

While showing a marginal 3 percent increase in average total viewers for the year to date, CNN was down 14 percent and 33 percent respectively from the same day last year, and 8 percent in the demo from the average day. CNN did see a slight increase in primetime total viewers, with 1,374,000 tuning in from 8:00-11:00 ET — a 4 percent bump from this year’s total day average. But the 345,000 demo number was off 5 percent from the 2019 average, and 29 percent from the same day last year.

Despite the middling numbers, the event was a critical darling. Outlets from NBC News to Vox ran articles praising the forum.

“CNN managed to host seven hours of sustained, substantive, primetime discussion on climate change — something that would have been unthinkable even six months ago — with very little fat on it,” Vox’s David Roberts wrote. “For as often as the network is criticized for its climate coverage, it deserves enormous credit for this.”

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Joe DePaolo is a Senior Editor at Mediaite. Email him here: Follow him on Twitter: @joe_depaolo