Out News Anchor Shepard Smith's CNBC Show Trails in Ratings

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Tuesday October 27, 2020

Shepard Smith appears on The Fox News Deck before his "Shepard Smith Reporting" program on Jan. 30, 2017, in New York.
Shepard Smith appears on The Fox News Deck before his "Shepard Smith Reporting" program on Jan. 30, 2017, in New York.  (Source:AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

Out news anchor Shepard Smith surprised viewers when he left Fox News in 2019, after 23 years on the network. He now has a news show at CNBC, but it's dwelling at the bottom of the ratings, Mediaite reports.

"The News with Shepard Smith" premiered on CNBC on Sept. 30 at 7:00 pm, Mediaite recalled, pulling in an average of 343,000 viewers per night. Those numbers only fell in subsequent weeks, plummeting to 268,000 viewers on average for the show's second week and clocking in at an average of 254,000 viewers for week three. The numbers among the coveted 25-54 age demographic were even worse, Mediaite reported, "going from a meager 58,000 average viewers in the show's debut week to just 48,000 the week later."

This week - the show's fourth - is expected to continue the trend.

By contrast, Mediaite noted, Smith's last program at Fox - "Shepard Smith Reporting," which aired at 3 p.m., a slot he was moved to after being bumped from his longtime 7 pm perch - "consistently averaged more than a million viewers, with 25-54 age demo ratings sometimes higher than 'The News with Shepard Smith''s current total average viewership."

Mediaite noted that Smith's new show trails CNN and MSNBC, and draws fewer eyeballs than the nightly repeat of Fox's "Lou Dobbs Tonight," a business program that airs at 5 pm before being broadcast again at 7.

Smith enjoys the esteem of his colleagues, the Associated Press reported in a profile about his new program published just before its premiere. Former Fox boss Michael Clementi praised Smith, saying, "He's smart as a whip, agile, super curious and an amazing broadcaster,," and going on to say, "He's in the same league as Peter Jennings."

Smith told the Associated Press at the time that his new program's format would be to "do just the news," and not opinion.

"We're going to have journalists, reporters, sound and video. We're going to have newsmakers and experts ... but no pundits," Smith added. "We're going to leave the opinion to others. It's exactly what I've been wanting to do." Smith also denied that friction between himself and other personalities at Fox accounted for his having left that network and switched to CNBC, despite having been with Fox from its beginnings in 1996. "It's just that this one fit better," Smith said of his new post at CNBC.

But Mediaite suggested that eschewing opinion and sticking to the news was the show's very problem, asserting that Smith's ratings were "yet another sign that as much as news viewers claim to want more unbiased and straight news reporting, that really isn't what works on cable."

The Associated Press seemed to concur, reporting that, "Smith's 2013 removal from the evening schedule, where the biggest cable news audiences reside, was an early sign that the balance was tipping toward more opinion — and not just at Fox."

CNBC responded to Mediaite, telling the outlet that "news viewers are creatures of habit and it takes a long time to change those habits."

CNBC pointed out that Smith's new show "far exceeds the audience of "The Kudlow Report," which was the last regular news program to air on CNBC in the 7 pm hour back in the first quarter of 2014."

CNBC invited Mediaite to "Tune in to CNBC again tonight for more of the facts, the truth and 'The News with Shepard Smith' at 7 pm ET and follow us on Twitter @thenewsoncnbc."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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