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Ashleigh Banfield’s NewsNation Debut Draws Just 17,000 Viewers

Former WGN America’s Monday relaunch averaged only 37,000 primetime viewers

NewsNation relaunched on Monday, not that you would know it from these TV ratings.

According to Nielsen, NewsNation’s first primetime back on the cable airwaves drew just 37,000 total viewers, on average, from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. In the key news demo, adults 25-54, the average across those three hours was only 8,000.

It gets worse: Ashleigh Banfield’s new program settled for a mere 17,000 total viewers at 10 p.m., according to Nielsen. Just 5,000 viewers aged 25-54 tuned in to that hour.

The NewsNation channel was previously known as WGN America, prior to the rebranding announced in January. WGNA was not always wall-to-wall news, airing just a two-hour primetime newscast under the “NewsNation” banner. (The primetime segment has since been renamed “NewsNation Prime.”)

Upon its relaunch and the addition of Banfield’s show, the channel also added “NewsNation Early Edition,” hosted by Nichole Berlie at 6 p.m. ET, and “The Donlon Report,” hosted by Joe Donlon at 7 p.m. ET.

In primetime, Monday’s NewsNation effort was down 18% in viewers versus the same day last week, and down 27% in the key demo. Banfield’s program dropped 38% overall and halved the 10 o’clock hour’s demo audience from the previous Monday.

Billed as a competitor to cable news leaders CNN and Fox News, NewsNation has distinguished itself as having only live national newscast in primetime, with the network pointing to other cable networks’ decision to air opinion shows in the evening.

In an interview with TheWrap ahead of the launch, Banfield said her program and NewsNation as a whole has “the health of the viewer” in mind more than its competitors do.

“Because everyone has retreated into echo chambers, they’ve left a void behind and that void happens to include tens of millions of Americans who are independent-minded and who are starving for an unbiased news product, so this is also a business decision. The business decision is to serve those people who would like to see journalism returned to the way it used to be,” she said, adding, “I believe the ratings will come because people are starving for this kind of product.”