Nothing CNN CEO Chris Licht has done to revamp CNN programming as helped its ratings woes. One lame idea was for CNN Tonight to air the “Overtime” segment of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher on Friday nights, since CNN and HBO share the same parent company, Warner Bros. Discovery. The roughly ten-minute segment takes questions from Maher viewers and discusses them with the guests. It was a bonus segment for YouTube on Saturdays.
Could CNN score some eyeballs with some Bill Maher surplus product? No. Fox News media reporter Joseph Wulfsohn pointed out that CNN’s ratings decline continued unabated:
CNN has shed a whopping 47% of its viewers in the 11:30-11:44 p.m. time slot when “Overtime” has aired since January, according to Nielsen Research Data. The network lost an additional 58% in the key advertiser-targeted 25-54 demo during that same time period.
Maher’s segments during Friday’s CNN Tonight have averaged just 368,000 total viewers and only 74,000 in the key demo from February to early March. That’s less than half Maher’s actual audience, which averaged 782,000 total viewers during that same period with an audience that pays the HBO premium while CNN is broadly available on basic cable.
CNN’s comedic experiment has only a fraction of Fox News’s Gutfeld!, which averaged 1.9 million viewers during the same time period with 305,000 in the key demo.
Wulfsohn noted one “Overtime” segment backfired on CNN when the network aired Maher guest Sarah Isgur taking a swipe at morning host Don Lemon for his sexist comments about Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley being past her “prime” due to her age.
Another attempt to squeeze the Bill Maher lemon also failed. CNN ran a primetime special with Jake Tapper interviewing Maher for an hour on February 28. It scored just 821,000 viewers, an improvement for CNN, but far behind Hannity on Fox with 2.4 million viewers and Alex Wagner on MSNBC with 1.2 million.