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Does Calling Your Viewers ‘Bastards’ Directly Affect Your Ratings?

Don Imus‘s morning show has never been on more radio stations than it is today — more than 80.

But the cowboy boot-wearing jock is having a hard time finding his footing on TV. In the just finished November ratings period, “Imus in the Morning” was the least watched FBN program in A25-54 viewers, averaging 6,000 from 6-9am. An improvement from the 5,000 who watched last month, but down -50% from the 12,000 average in Nov. 2010, when the mid-term elections were the big story.

By comparison, CNBC which is available in 40 million more homes, had more than 10x the A25-54 viewers with 70,000 watching “Squawk Box”. The gap narrows in total viewers as Imus drew 92,000 to CNBC’s 175,000: and both shows grew their Total Viewer numbers year-over-year.

Since May, (5/5/11 – 11/25/11) when Connell McShane took over for Charles McCord, the show has seen an -18% drop in A25-54 viewers. And despite crowing about an occasional win against “Squawk Box”, Imus has not logged a win in the 6-9am block this year, in either Total Viewers or the demo.

Earlier this month, Imus went after his “bastard” viewers for watching one day and not the next, which led Fox Business anchor Neil Cavuto to go on the show and declare it wasn’t the viewers’ fault “that your show is awful.”

Imus launched on FBN October 5, 2009 and with another year left on his deal, Fox Business may be looking for what’s next. So might Imus. His deal with FBN comes to an end around the same time as The Wall Street Journal‘s partnership with CNBC expires. Though both are owned by News Corp., an FBN-WSJ team-up is not a sure thing.

The TV version of “Imus in the Morning” aired on MSNBC from 1996-2007 and on RFD-TV from 2007-2009.

  • Cable news morning ratings (Nov. 2011)

Show Network Total Viewers A25-54
Fox & Friends FNC 1.106M 343K
Morning Joe MSNBC 437K 153K
Morning Express HLN 272K 123K
American Morning CNN 253K 103K
Squawk Box CNBC 175K 70K
Imus FBN 92K 6K

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