After months of delay, HLN premiered one of its newest shows, S.E. Cupp Unfiltered, last week. The show debuted on the same as Carol Costello’s Across America and both are part of a push for HLN to be newsier and closer to sister channel CNN. However, the panel program struggled in the ratings over its first week (it only airs Monday through Thursday). While cable news programs have certainly suffered difficult first weeks and then risen in the ratings, cable news history is also filled with numerous shows that never bounced back.
A HLN spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.
Perhaps most worryingly for Cupp, her ratings declined throughout the week (below chart) in both total viewers and the crucial 25-54 adult demo.
Also a concern for Cupp and HLN as a whole is how her show does compared to her HLN neighbors. In both the demo and total viewers, her show lost viewers from the preceding Forensic Files and then Primetime Justice (which is a primetime show and typically has higher ratings) rose from Cupp’s ratings. This would indicate that viewers tuned away for Cupp’s show but returned for Primetime Justice.
There is also the matter of how Cupp compared to her timeslot competitors in cable news. Here, however, it is important to remember the larger issue and expectations. HLN has struggled in the ratings for the past few years and there is little expectation for HLN to beat MSNBC or CNN, let alone Fox News. Nonetheless, Cupp struggled mightily against her cable news counterparts and it also shows that for her timeslot, the viewership did not decline over the week.
One of the most common metrics for comparing cable news ratings is year-to-date. The chart below compares Cupp’s demo and total viewers compared to the 7 PM timeslot a week ago and a year ago. In the demo, Unfiltered is the lowest for all days except Thursday. In total viewers, Unfiltered trails both shows by a sizable margin.