The premiere of CNN Original Series: Death Row Stories ranked No. 1 among cable news networks in the news demo last night in the 9 PM hour, averaging 255,000 demo viewers, besting MSNBC (117,000) and FNC (103,000). In overall audience, FNC’s Justice With Judge Jeanine won the hour with 990,000 viewers, to CNN’s 719,000 and MSNBC’s 243,000 with Caught On Camera. CNN noted the launch of its Death Row Stories jumped 99% in the news demo compared to prior four-week average (355,000 versus 128,000). Each in the series of one-hour documentaries follows a different capital murder case; the series is exec produced by Alex Gibney and Robert Redford, and narrated by Susan Sarandon. The project is part of a CNN programming shift to documentary storytelling — the most success of which remains the docu-film Blackfish which, last October, opened with an impressive 1.36 million viewers and 472,000 demo viewers. Two weeks later, CNN’s next docu-film, Pandora’s Promise scored a deflated 345,000 total viewers and 145,000 demo viewers, demonstrating the difficulty of documentary films that each has to be sold to viewers. Death Row Stories, on the other hand, has an eight-episode order.
In prime time last night, CNN was top-rated in the news demo, with 201,000 viewers, to MSNBC’s 175,000 and FNC’s 139,000.