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Last place: Shepard Smith's new CNBC show tanks in ratings

Just 254,000 viewers in Week 3, Nielsen reports.

Updated: October 28, 2020 - 8:28am

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

Former Fox News anchor Shepard Smith's new show on CNBC is not doing so well.

In fact, his prime-time show is running behind even repeats of Fox Business's show "Lou Dobbs Tonight."

The show, "The News with Shepard Smith," launched on Sept. 30 and has drawn some big-name guests, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, an immunologist and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases who served on the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

While the show brought in an average of 343,000 total viewers its first week, according to Nielsen, in its second week that number dropped to 268,000 in its second week, and dropped again in Week 3 to 254,000.

Worse, the coveted demographic of the 25-54 age group came in at an average 58,000 viewers in Week 1 and dropped to 48,000 the next week.

"Between September 30 and October 22, The News with Shepard Smith was at the bottom of 7 p.m. cable news ratings – behind MSNBC's Joy Reid, CNN's Erin Burnett and Fox News' Martha MacCallum – with an average of 272,000 viewers," Mediaite reported.

"As far as the business network competition goes, Smith's show placed behind the 7 p.m. repeat of Fox Business show Lou Dobbs Tonight, which pulled in 305,000 viewers (Dobbs initially airs at 5 p.m.)" the media site reported.

And CNBC provided Mediaite with the following statement on Smith's ratings:

"We are pleased with the launch of The News with Shepard Smith and have received very positive feedback from viewers. Not only is CNBC a new entrant in the general news genre, but news viewers are creatures of habit and it takes a long time to change those habits. That said, the newscast far exceeds the audience of The Kudlow Report, which was the last regular news program to air on CNBC in the 7p hour back in the first quarter of 2014. We will continue to fight for every viewer every weeknight. Tune in to CNBC again tonight for more of the facts, the truth and The News with Shepard Smith at 7pm ET and follow us on Twitter @thenewsoncnbc."

At Fox News, where Smith worked for 23 years, he drew big numbers, eventually signing a three-year contract for $7-$8 million per year. But Smith, 56, grew unhappy at the network and surprised viewers in October 2019 when he announced he was leaving. 

"I am honored to continue to pursue the truth, both for CNBC's loyal viewers and for those who have been following my reporting for decades in good times and in bad," Smith, who at Fox anchored "Shepard Smith Reporting," "The Fox Report" and "Studio B," said at the time.

Even though he was on mid-afternoon on Fox, he drew an average of 1.3 million per day, Variety reported.

In prime time, where Smith is now, Fox pulls huge numbers. Sean Hannity ended the third quarter as the highest-rated show in cable news, with an average audience of 4.454 million viewers. "Overall, Fox News had four of the top five highest-rated shows in cable news, with Hannity followed by Tucker Carlson Tonight (4.351 million viewers), The Five (3.483 million viewers), and The Ingraham Angle (3.430 million viewers). MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show finished in fifth place overall as the highest-rated non-FNC program, with an average total audience of 3.302 million viewers," The Hill reported.

When Smith left, "Fox News insiders told CNN that the Trump-friendly atmosphere at the network had 'got to be too much,' prompting him to negotiate an exit from his long-term contract starting in September," The Hill reported.

When he signed with CNBC in July, Smith said, "In my more than 30 years in journalism, there has never been a better or more critical time to launch a non-partisan, fact-based evening newscast."

"From the ongoing pandemic to the election and the economy, the mission of this program is to cover the most important news of the day with depth and clarity. Each night, we will be bold, we will be direct and we will deliver the truth to our viewers," Smith said.