Face-Off: The Cable Game vs. Inside Cable News

“Spud” at Inside Cable News is a savvy Cable Gamer, so I noticed when he took issue with my pessimistic thoughts on Legends & Lies. Spud’s view:

I think it will do better than Inheritance. Everyone know that show was a big hit for FBN but what they fail to understand is that FBN’s ratings are anemic compared to FNC’s so it wouldn’t take much to turn Inheritance into a hit in the first place. You put Inheritance on FNC with those numbers and in my view it’s an open question whether it gets renewed for a second season.

Legends and Lies will have a bigger installed viewership to take advantage of, especially considering who is pushing it. You put O’Reilly’s name behind this and it would take a failure of colossal magnitude for this show not to do as well if not better than Inheritance did.

First let’s review how Strange Inheritance has been performing on FNC weekends:

  • 4/11 632,000 / 72,000 (25-54)
  • 4/4 833,000 / 138,000
  • 3/28 919,000 / 147,000
  • 3/21 862,000 / 129,000
  • 3/14 1,112,000 / 189,000

Variety reports that the premiere of Legends & Lies gave a nice boost to FNC’s anemic Sunday night schedule:

While FNC dominates on the ratings front during the week, it hasn’t been as strong on the weekends, but this gave it a nice boost. Compared to its timeslot average year-to-date, “Legends & Lies” lifted the network by 60% in total viewers and 24% in adults 25-54.

And TV By the Numbers adds:

FOX News Channel’s new historical series Legends & Lies: The Real West was the most-watched cable news program on Sunday, delivering 1.022 million total viewers from 8-10PM.

But it’s the “news demo” (25-54) that matters and there Legends & Lies couldn’t overcome MSNBC’s Prisoners’ Block:

  • Legends & Lies 8:00 pm 103,000
  • Caught on Camera 8:00 pm 139,000
  • Legends & Lies 9:00 pm 143,000
  • LockUp 9:00 pm 155,000

L&L‘s total viewers are better overall than Inheritance, but the demo doesn’t hold up as well. So there are points on both sides of the argument. But let’s face it—it’s too soon to tell. You can’t judge a program’s staying power from who tunes in on premiere night. The test is how many will come back the following week, and the week after that. Then we’ll know whether Roger Ailes rolled a natural…or snake eyes.



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