Baldwin’s Ratings Aren’t Much to Boast About

by Andrew Johnson

With the future of his show in question after just a month, MSNBC host Alec Baldwin took the opportunity to gloat about his show’s ratings victories over CNN’s during that time slot in a Huffington Post op-ed. But Baldwin’s account of his ratings may not be as impressive — or as accurate — as he would like fans to think.

Up Late with Alec Baldwin debuted on MSNBC on October 11 as a weekly, 10 p.m. Friday-night talk show, meaning the show had aired just five episodes prior to his two-week suspension starting last Friday. As he wondered about his show’s future on the Huffington Post, he wrote that he and his staff “do take a small amount of pride in knowing that we beat CNN in the ratings each of our nights. (I forget who they had on at that time.)” His jibe about not remembering was the latest in a tiff between the actor and CNN’s Anderson Cooper, who has criticized Baldwin for his anti-gay remarks.

But, in those handful of episodes, Baldwin hasn’t quite been going against CNN’s toughest competition. At least two of those weeks, the network ran re-runs of earlier airings of Anderson Cooper 360° and Crossfire, which Baldwin beat out by a few hundred thousand at most. Meanwhile, CNN’s audience for Blackfish, a documentary on the dangers of keeping killer whales in captivity, was only 30,000 less than Up Late’s.

Where Baldwin may have been selective, if not outright wrong, in his boasting is his ratings for November 1, when he interviewed 2001: A Space Odyssey’s Gary Lockwood and Keir Dullea. According to Nielsen Media Research, Up Late brought in 354,000 viewers that night. During that hour, CNN aired a half-hour of Cooper providing the latest details on the LAX shooting, followed by its in-depth sports show, Unguarded, hosted by Rachel Nichols. In their respective 30 minutes, Cooper’s broadcast had 592,000 viewers, while Nichols had 318,000.

While Cooper is more than assuredly safe at CNN, Baldwin isn’t sure what lies ahead for his show following his most recent explosion. By his own admission, it may, in fact, be Baldwin himself that we forget was on at that time a few months from now.

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