2022 is nearing an end, so it’s time to reveal your TVNewser Challenge predictions. At around a year ago at this time, we asked 10 questions about the TV news business and asked for your predictions. We had no idea that a TV producer would take over one of the world’s most influential news brands in the middle of an election year, promptly fire hundreds of staffers, shut down a streaming service and launch a new morning show; or that previously-undisclosed romances would bring unwelcome attention on multiple networks; or that coverage of an international invasion would take the lives of three U.S. news journalists; or that an MSNBC legend would stick around in primetime one night per week after it seemed she’d be exiting the daypart; or that a financial news powerhouse would shake up leadership and part ways with a veteran newsman.
So what will 2023 bring? We’ll pose those questions Wednesday.
For now, here are the results of the 2022 TVNewser Challenge:
Those of you who went with “Other” (32% – the most popular answer) aren’t exactly wrong. “Other” can mean “the network decides not to name a permanent host in 2022.” So, nice job!?
Believe it or not, CNN still has not named a permanent host of the weekday 9 p.m. timeslot after the network fired Chris Cuomo fired last December. CNN has rebranded the hour as CNN Tonight (for now) and started out with a rotating slew of guest-hosts before giving Jake Tapper the hour on an interim basis in the weeks of the midterm election. However, Tapper didn’t really move the needle at 9 p.m., and the network returned to its guest-host format at 9 p.m., with Anderson Cooper often having to extend the 8 p.m. edition of AC360 by one hour. Alisyn Camerota and Laura Coates have established themselves as co-hosts of a roundtable-style program in Don Lemon‘s former 10 p.m.-12 a.m. time period after Lemon moved to the network’s new morning show early last month.
We’ll certainly learn more about CNN’s 9 p.m. hour in 2023.
So, we can file the answer to this one under “Other,” although Maddow hasn’t totally vacated the hour. Her MSNBC appearances are now Mondays-only, which just so happens to traditionally be the highest-rated day of the week in cable news. More than 49% of you thought Nicolle Wallace would take over the pivotal hour on a permanent basis. She is one of the more popular hosts on the network and one of the few who often wins an hour (4 p.m.).
More than 21% of you selected “Other,” the second most popular answer. And that’s correct. The network signed TV news vet Alex Wagner to handle Tuesdays-Fridays. Wagner got off to a strong start, but has seen her ratings dip, with Lawrence O’Donnell starting to emerge as the network’s most-watched host in recent months.
When asked who would eventually replace Brian Williams as host of The 11th Hour, the majority of you went with network veteran Ali Velshi. However, that did not come to pass. Stephanie Ruhle earned the gig on a permanent basis early this year, and only 14% of you thought that would happen; fourth place out of six options. (Ya’ll aren’t perfect, it happens!)
Jesse Watters was named the permanent host of Fox News’ 7 p.m. hour. Nearly 26% of you thought the network would go with him, No. 2 out of seven possible options (it’s interesting that “Other” was the most popular — nearly 29%). Jesse Watters Primetime is currently the third most-watched cable news program of 2022 (though Nielsen data is not finalized). I’d say that’s a pretty good start for the program.
Fox News apparently stunned our readers by selecting Shannon Bream as Chris Wallace’s replacement on Fox News Sunday, as less than 2% of you thought the network would go that route. Bret Baier was the most popular prediction, understandably so considering he’s the chief political anchor and face of the news division. John Roberts, co-anchor of America Reports, was second (28%), followed by a slew of news division personalities before Bream. That said, Fox News viewers seem to be taking to Bream, as her Nielsen ratings are currently up from Wallace’s, year-over-year.
Ah yes, CNN+. The beleaguered, short-lived subscription streaming news service wasn’t able to garner much traction over its first three weeks in existence and incoming leadership at Warner Bros. Discovery promptly pulled the plug in the spring of 2022. It appears many of you weren’t going to subscribe to the service anyway — 61% said “No,” with 24% saying “Yes,” and 14.5% “Unsure.”
One of the most significant media stories of 2022 was the controversial exit of CNN Worldwide chief Jeff Zucker. There was a strong possibility that he would leave the company following WarnerMedia’s merger with Discovery anyway, but the process was expedited by the previously-undisclosed revelation that he had a longtime romance with his direct report, communications and marketing czar Allison Gollust. WBD chief executive David Zaslav would eventually appoint longtime news and late night TV producer Chris Licht as head of CNN that spring.
Anyways, 59% of you said Zucker would not survive the merger and you were right!
We’re sticking with the CNN theme here. More than 25% of you said CNN New Day would make a host change, the second most popular choice in our poll. And those of you who went with CNN were proven right. New CEO Chris Licht made a name for himself as a national morning show producer — first at Morning Joe and later CBS This Morning before switching to late night. One of Licht’s first major programming moves as CNN boss was to launch a new morning show, aptly named CNN This Morning, headlined by Don Lemon, Poppy Harlow and emerging talent Kaitlan Collins.
The most popular choice among our readers, however, was CBS Mornings, the franchise that Licht launched, ironically. However, the current powers-that-be stuck with its co-hosts in 2022 and Nielsen ratings, particularly among women under 55, have actually grown.
Which evening newscast is most likely to change anchors next year? Well, despite speculation swirling around Norah O’Donnell‘s future at CBS News, the anchor ended up signing a new deal to remain at the network earlier this year and has yet to relinquish her role as the face of the legendary CBS Evening News.
The overwhelming majority of you felt O’Donnell would not survive the year. More than 16% of you thought none of the major broadcasters would make a change—the second most-popular choice in our poll—and those who went that route were proven right!
Guess this wasn’t a particularly tough question, as 79% of you chose what ended up being the correct answer.
Yes, as 2022 comes to a close, David Muir and the ABC World News Tonight team remain at the front of the evening news ratings race — ranking as the No. 1 evening newscast in in Total Viewers (8.16 million), Adults 25-54 (1.44 million).
World News Tonight averaged more total viewers than NBC and CBS evening news competition for the 6th consecutive year and in Adults 25-54 for the 3rd straight year.
ABC’s evening newscast was also the most-watched program on all of U.S. television in 2022 for 30 out of 51 weeks of the year to-date, excluding sports programming, of course.
Tucker Carlson Tonight was the go-to choice among TVNewser prediction poll participants as being the most-watched cable news show of 2022. However, that did not come to pass. The No. 1 in Total Viewers designation goes to Fox News’ The Five, which also happens to be the second most popular choice among our readers.
For the first time in TV history, a non-primetime cable program is closing out the year as cable’s most-watched in total viewers. Airing at 5 p.m., FNC’s roundtable news talk program is garnering cable news’ largest audience in 2022 with roughly 3.4 million total viewers on average.
If it’s any consolation, Carlson did finish with largest Adults 25-54 audience in cable news this year, averaging roughly 520,000 viewers at 8 p.m.
Yes, final 2022 Nielsen data isn’t technically in, but Fox News Channel as a network is poised to notch its seventh year as the most-watched cable network in the 6 a.m.-6 a.m. daypart, while delivering the third most-watched year ever in cable news history for 2022 in total day viewers, according to live plus same day data from Nielsen Media Research.