CNN’s Sports Series ‘Unguarded’ Comes Up Short in its Premiere Friday

Unguarded CNN Rachel Nicohls

CNN is off to a modest ratings start with its weekly half-hour sports series “Unguarded,” which placed fourth among cable newsies in its timeslot Friday night and made MSNBC’s competing Alec Baldwin program look like a world-beater.

The Rachel Nichols-hosted “Unguarded” averaged about 288,000 viewers in the 10:30 p.m. half-hour, according to Nielsen, including 92,000 in the adults 25-54 demo. This is about 30% lower than what CNN had been averaging in the time period this quarter.

Also on Friday, the third week of “Up Late With Alec Baldwin” drew 553,000 viewers for the 10 o’clock hour, up a bit from the 529,000 it drew one week earlier. The show premiered to 654,000 on Oct. 10.

In their common 10:30 p.m. half-hour Friday, the Baldwin show beat “Unguarded” handily in both total viewers (452,000 to 288,000) and the demo (125,000 to 92,000). Fox News Channel’s special “Charles Krauthammer — A Life That Matters” blew away everyone with 2.65 million viewers, including 377,000 adults 25-54.

HLN finished third among the cable news outlets at 10:30 p.m. with 362,000 total viewers and 175,000 in the demo.

“Unguarded” is CNN’s first swing in the sports world in the 12 years since it canceled “Sports Tonight.” Nichols, a nine-year vet of ESPN before joining CNN/Turner Sports earlier this year, interviewed LeBron James for the first episode, which also featured a roundtable sports discussion.

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