Spitzer’s CNN debut is a bust

'Parker Spitzer' only nabs 454,000 viewers Monday

CNN’s “Parker Spitzer” has landed with a thud.

The show debuted this week to ratings that repped a scant 16,000 in-demo viewer bump over the previous Monday’s fare — a primetime version of “Rick’s List,” hosted by ex-CNNer Rick Sanchez. Sanchez pulled in 102,000 adults 25-54 and 311,000 total viewers; the former New York governor and print journo Parker, 118,000 and 454,000, respectively. The show came in fourth behind “Nancy Grace” on sister net HLN (468,000 total viewers, 149,000 in the demo).

Year on year against Campbell Brown, who resigned from the net this May, the 8 p.m. hour has dropped double-digit percentages across the board: 10% fewer demo viewers (Brown brought 131,000) and 23% fewer total viewers (589,000 vs. 454,000). The hour’s median age has gone up a full two years in the meantime, from 62.2 to 64.2.

The show, one of CNN U.S. ex-prexy Jonathan Klein’s last programming decisions, has been heavily promoted by CNN as its latest attempt to stanch the flow of viewers away from the troubled net. When the net announced Klein’s departure on Sept. 24, CNN topper Jim Walton said that the move was something the net wanted to do “before we launched (‘Parker Spitzer’ and the upcoming Piers Morgan show) so that we didn’t appear to show any dissatisfaction with those shows.”

Even Turner head Phil Kent gave the skeins his seal of approval, saying he was “very confident in CNN’s programming strategy, including the network’s upcoming fall shows.”

It’s been another rough patch for CNN — just one week after Klein’s dismissal was made public, Sanchez was canned with even less ceremony after a tasteless tirade about Jon Stewart and Jewish influence in the media on a satellite radio show. On Monday, international correspondent Cal Perry (whose team won the RTNDA Edward R. Murrow award for the net’s Middle East coverage), announced that he would be leaving the net but gave no indication as to his future plans.

There was little question that “Parker Spitzer” would have to start at the bottom and work its way up, but if the show doesn’t gain traction quickly, new net head Ken Jautz will have his work cut out for him — and there’s still the Morgan premiere next year to stage manage.