Is ‘King Charles’ a Multi-Million-Dollar Ratings Flop for CNN, Gayle King, and Charles Barkley?

Gayle King and Charles Barkley are pulling in big bucks on CNN, with King reportedly signing a reported $12 million per year contract for the new show “King Charles.” However, when the news talk show premiered on Nov. 29, it ranked among the lowest-rated CNN primetime show premieres in more than a decade — and the ratings didn’t improve for the second show.

(Image, CNN)

In the first episode of “King Charles,” hosts King and Barkley conducted interviews with prominent figures such as Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, rapper Fat Joe, and Gannett journalists hired specifically to cover Taylor Swift and Beyoncé.

The new pre-taped show, which airs only on Wednesdays at 10 p.m., had 501,000 viewers watching its premiere, according to same-day Nielsen ratings. 

Of those viewers, only 132,000 made up the key demographic — adults aged between 25 and 54 — for advertisers, The Daily Beast reported.

The second week of “King Charles” was aired 9 p.m. to make room for the Republican primary debate on Dec. 6, CNN reported. The time change didn’t improve ratings either, according to reports, with 466,000 tuning in for the second episode.

King and Charles

As Finurah previously reported, King has an estimated net worth of $30 million. She is best known for her work as co-anchor of the CBS morning news program “CBS This Morning.” Barkley, an NBA Hall of Famer and commentator for “Inside the NBA,” has a reputed net worth of $60 million.

Although Barkley’s contract for “King Charles” was not disclosed, it was reported on Oct. 17, 2022, that he signed a 10-year, $200 million deal with CNN sister network TNT. This deal was an expansion on the three years he left on a contract that paid him $10 million per season. 

Barkley Says Ratings Not Right

While Nielsen states the show received 501,000 viewers, VideoAmp stated the show premiere with 562,000 viewers, a 12 percent difference. The increase would make King Charles one of CNN’s top 10 in its time slot, and its second-highest-ranking show along Anderson Cooper’s. VideoAmp also stated that “King Charles” is the No. 1 show in prime time among Black audiences, and in the top five across all linear television among Black viewers in its time slot, Next TV reported.

And Barkley isn’t happy with Nielsen.

“These Nielsen people try to say our ratings weren’t great, but we won a certain demographic. Hey man, to my team, f—- them,” Barkley said on “The Steam Room,” a podcast he hosts with “Inside the NBA”co-host Ernie Johnson. “Don’t you worry about what people tell you about your ratings? Nobody knows what people are watching. They don’t! You got a group of people who get to dictate who gets hired and fired, and that’s the part that sucks about the Nielsen ratings.”

Where Are the Viewers?

According to The New York Post, compared to CNN’s previous 10 p.m. time slot shows, the King and Barkley project had a lackluster debut performance. 

On that same November Wednesday “King Charles” premiered, most 10 p.m. primetime cable news shows performed better than CNN’s. 

MSNBC’s “Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell” garnered 1.6 million total viewers. Fox News aired “Gutfeld!,” another news talk show, which attracted 1.97 million total viewers, Deadline reported. The New York Post, owned by the same parent company, reported “Gutfeld!” had 2.2 million viewers.

“King Charles” was orchestrated by former CNN CEO Chris Licht, who then wanted to revamp CNN’s programming to adapt to a broader audience. Before he assumed the role on Feb. 28, Licht had criticized CNN’s award-winning COVID coverage.

According to an exposé article from The Atlantic, Licht’s adjustments were met with skepticism from within his staff as well as from the public, including some of CNN’s chief anchors. 

On June 7, five days after the bombshell article was published, Licht was fired.

CNN still moved forward with Licht’s “King Charles” show, which the network plans to air throughout the next year as a limited series.

In addition to “King Charles,” other CNN shows both new and established have low ratings. “The Source with Kaitlan Collins,” another one of Licht’s prime time ideas, debuted on July 10 and still draws about 540,000 total viewers, The Daily Beast reported, averaging 83,000 in the key demographic.

The flagship show, “Anderson Cooper 360” had a total audience of 592,000 on Nov. 29, averaging 149,000 in the key demographic.

What people are saying

3 thoughts on “Is ‘King Charles’ a Multi-Million-Dollar Ratings Flop for CNN, Gayle King, and Charles Barkley?

  1. CG Bennett says:

    Why would CNN want to diss the Royal Family with a Meghan Markel loving Gayle “King” and a conveniently named “Charles” Barkley (…really, how many U.S. celebrities named Charles don’t use the less formal “Charlie”…oooo, lucky CNN, they found one!)? Even I could come up with better cheesy programming ideas for far less money than CNN is wasting on their idea “talent”. King Charles’ abysmal ratings can be spun any-which-way CNN wants to save-face by minimalizing the program’s success objectives, but a show that touts “straight talk” and “not being opinionated” needs to develop the courage (read: balls) to recognize a flop when they produce one. CNN might remind Mr. Barkley he should think before playing the Trump card in objecting to the votes of the Neilsen Ratings…unless he’s angling for an insurrection, that is. If CNN just wants to spend money, send it to a food bank to help struggling families and stop wasting it on the likes of Gayle King! In closing, if you would…..please send this along to CBS news. Thank you.

  2. Brian Lucey says:

    It’s not a good show, but … Charles Barkley himself has been called King Charles for 30 years. Beck when the current King Charles was still hated for his affair, and killing the heart of Diana. Charles Barkley when he was still a basketball player was King Charles.

  3. Pat Upchurch says:

    Glad it’s off. Terribly boring. Like one person said give to 200 million to food bank. I don’t care that much for her but have always liked Charles

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