Lisa Ling’s ‘This Is Life’ Latest CNN Show Pushing Network Definition To Early Viewer Approval

Lisa Ling’s This Is Life continues CNN’s encouraging preliminary ratings results with programs that push the news network’s definition. In its first telecast, on September 28, the documentary series clocked 235,000 demo viewers and 598,000 total viewers, handily winning both metrics, and a big uptick compared to the 10 PM time slot’s prior four-week average with repeats of such programs as The Hunt, Death Row Stories and Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown.

CNN logoThe new series’ most recent episode, this past Sunday, logged 285,000 news demo viewers, and 667,000 overall viewers — again finishing first against its cable news competition and besting the time slot’s prior four-week average. Those results in the teeth of  NBC’s football, Showtime’s Homeland, CBS’ The Good Wife, etc.

This Is Life every week purports to take viewers to “far corners of America” and introduce us to “sub-cultures” of the U.S. Episodes so far have looked at prescription drug abuse by Mormons, sugar daddies, the children born of a sperm bank that marketed genius genes, etc. The series, from Part2 pictures, is one of several new series that push the definition of CNN that the network has introduced recently as it tries to shore up ratings.

Earlier this month, Mike Rowe seemed to pop a hole in Piers Morgan’s claim his CNN show was hobbled by its lousy lead-in, when the launch of his Somebody’s Gotta Do It drew CNN’s best premiere numbers since Jeff Zucker took over in January 2013. In the news demo, Rowe bagged 507,000 viewers, and his overall haul was 943,000 viewers, in Morgan’s old time slot. And his lead-in, Anderson Cooper, who’d also been Morgan’s lead-in, had in fact provided a smaller 282,000 demo crowd and 709,000 total viewers. But Rowe’s show self-started, and the opening represented a 152% hike in the news demo compared with the time slot’s average the prior four Wednesdays (201,000), and a 77% jump in overall crowd (534,000).

In July, the launch of The Hunt With John Walsh averaged 330,000 viewers in the news demo, making it the highest-rated debut of an original series on the network ever at that time (since eclipsed by Rowe.) It beat the 284,000 that The Sixties got for CNN on May 29. The Hunt also got a pretty good run in total viewers too. With 989,000 watching, the fugitive investigation series fronted by the former America’s Most Wanted host beat Fox News Channel by 21% and MSNBC by 174% in total viewers. The new show outperformed FNC’s 9 PM offering and MSNBCs by 141% and 63%, respectively, in the key news demo, though Fox was airing a repeat of On The Record.

The Hunt is produced by Zero Point Zero Productions, the same people behind CNN’s other network-definition-pushing hit, Parts Unknown, which aired in the same slot.

Here’s a deeper dive into This Is Life‘s numbers so far:

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