CNN’s Wednesday night town hall with President Joe Biden in Ohio barely made a ripple in the cable news prime-time ratings race, as the network drew just over half the viewers of Fox News and finished a hair behind MSNBC.
Deadline, citing Nielsen ratings, reported that CNN pulled in an average of 1.46 million viewers between 8 p.m. and 9:15 p.m., when the president was on stage in Cincinnati. That’s a 58 percent drop in viewership from the previous CNN town hall with Biden this past February, which drew 3.5 million viewers.
Over the same 75-minute period Wednesday, Fox drew an average of 2.76 million viewers for “Tucker Carlson Tonight” and the first part of “Hannity.” The latter program featured a town hall with Florida Republicans, including Gov. Ron DeSantis, Sen. Marco Rubio, Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar, and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez discussing the ongoing pro-freedom protests in Cuba.
MSNBC edged out CNN for second place among the big three cable networks, drawing an average of 1.47 million viewers for “All in with Chris Hayes” and the first portion of “The Rachel Maddow Show.”
CNN did top MSNBC by 100,000 in the coveted 25-54 viewing demographic during the town hall, netting 297,000 of that audience to 197,000 for MSNBC. However, both channels finished well behind Fox, which drew 475,000 demographic viewers in the 8 p.m. to 9:15 p.m. period.
Overall, Fox News won primetime Wednesday night with an average of 2.36 million viewers compared to 1.63 million for MSNBC and and 1.28 million for CNN. In the 25-54 demographic, Fox averaged 400,000 viewers, while CNN drew 279,000 and MSNBC pulled in 209,000.
The town hall, moderated by CNN anchor Don Lemon, was held in a half-empty auditorium at Mount St. Joseph University. Pictures tweeted by members of the traveling press corps showed more than a dozen empty rows of seats at the rear of the venue, while the audience was clustered in the first few rows for the benefit of CNN’s cameras.
CNN spokeswoman Lauren Pratapas told The Post late Wednesday that the audience size was “typical … for a CNN town hall.”
Biden made news during the event by touting the number of coronavirus vaccinations in the US and declaring “this is not a pandemic,” before warning that children under 12 would likely need to wear masks in school this fall unless they become eligible for a vaccine soon.
“My expectation, talking to the group of scientists — we put together over 20 of them — plus others in the field,” Biden said, “is that sometime maybe in the beginning of the school year, at the end of August, beginning of September, October, you’ll get a final approval saying the FDA said, ‘No, this is it. It’s good’.”