And with all the money spent on producing a quality documentary did the gamble pay off for CNN? It's looking good, here is an analysis of the over nights.
As you can well imagine, television viewership went through the roof last night with the interest in the California wildfires and because most channels and networks sent their anchors out to cover this fast moving and very serious story.
In the middle of all this was CNN’s heavily promoted PLANET IN PERIL. With most channels providing live coverage all day long and the networks jumping in at their 6:30PM broadcasts along with primetime specials, it was a toss-up of what would happen to the highly promoted environmental special documentary.
AC360 normally doesn’t air at 8PM up against BILL O’REILLY and COUNTDOWN, but it started at a special time last night. For key advertising demographics, it is hard to beat CNN in breaking news coverage. Normally Fox News owns 8PM with all viewers – not quite, last night.
8PM: Adults 25-54 2+TOTAL AUDIENCE
Fox News 592,000 2,771,000
CNN: 556,000 1,342,000
MSNBC: 460,000 1,087,000
Viewership was ‘way up for all channels 2+, and it’s almost impossible to beat Fox News in 2+ because of their extremely heavy viewership with Adults 50+. It’s nice to say you’re #1, but it isn’t in the demographic target that advertisers want. In the key demo of Adults 25-54:
Fox News was up 25% over Monday’s performance.
CNN was up a whopping 43% (OUT IN THE OPEN aired Monday)
MSNBC was up 28%.
BUT!!! CNN, in a rare situation only lost to Fox News in Adults 25-54 by -6%! AC360 did its job in pulling in massive amounts of viewers not normally in the time period for the channel.
9PM: Adults 25-54 2+TOTAL AUDIENCE
Fox News: 471,000 1,893,000
CNN: 532,000* 1,574,000*
MSNBC: 211,000 589,000
Interestingly, PIP (they only give us the two hour program audience performance) was slightly lower (-4%) than its lead-in program of AC360, but that is understandable with the interest in the fires in the key demo and 360’s extraordinary performance at 8PM.
PIP outperformed AC360’s 8PM time period lead-in performance, 2+ Total Audience, by 15%.
More people of all ages tuned into PIP to boost its 2+ audience including valuable 18-34 year olds.
PIP was #1 in the time period for the key demographic of Adults 25-54.
PIP’s 2+ Total Audience increased 28% from Monday’s CNN 9PM LKL’s Total Audience – NOT BAD!!!!
PIP’s Adult 25-54 was 40% higher than Monday’s LKL’s Adults 25-54 delivery – WHOA!
10PM: Adults 25-54 2+TOTAL AUDIENCE
Fox News: 492,000 1,615,000
CNN: 532,000* 1,574,000*
MSNBC: 262,000 647,000
PIP continued at 10PM to trounce the competition in a number of areas.
PIP was #1 in the time period for the key demo of Adults 25-54.
PIP increased its Adults 25-54 audience in the time period from Monday (AC360) by a huge 44%!
PIP increased its 2+ audience in the time period from Monday (AC360) by 39%. All ages wanted to view this program.
Again, while television viewership was ‘way up last night, PIP’s audience experienced substantial audience increases over its regularly scheduled CNN programming.
Gee, in other words, AC topped AC!
11PM: Adults 25-54 2+ TOTAL AUDIENCE
Fox News: 452,000 1,252,000
CNN: 505,000 1,126,000
MSNBC: 265,000 607,000
We’re looking at the 11PM hour, as AC360 was live last night.
· AC360 beat Fox for the first time in months (I can’t confirm it, but I believe it was the repeat BILL O’REILLY program). Even though, AC360 repeats rarely beat Billo. With fresh fire coverage, AC360 took the time period for the key demographic of Adults 25-54.
· AC360 only lost to Fox News by 10% in 2+ TOTAL AUDIENCE. Fox as we know is a very old skewing channel.
· MSNBC was just a non-starter for both demographics.
· Television audiences drop drastically at 11PM. As many of you know, AC360’s repeat normally less than 200,000 Adults 25-54. AC360 had a HUGE 60% increase in that target audience at 11PM over most normal broadcasts of the program!
Even though there were advantages throughout the night for all channels, this is by anyone’s account a stellar performance by CNN.
*PIP is a two hour average from 9-11PM. All other programs were 9PM-10PM and 10PM-11PM.
^Courtesy Nielsen Media Research, demographics as noted, LIVE+Same Day Ratings (LS) Fast Track National performance.
And now for the Rating Guru's analysis of last weeks ratings.
Was it an up and down week for the “big three” cable channels? Well, yeah…
One week does not a program make, so I wouldn’t take the increases or the decreases too seriously as a trend. Baseball and to a lesser degree this week, football (sorry NY Giants and Atl Falcons) on ESPN still affect the channels, but it seems primarily with older audiences. While we don’t have demographic breakouts other than Adults 25-54 and Total Audience 2+, we hear rumors that AC360 is charging ahead with Adults 18-34. That is always good news that younger demos are watching news programming.
Hard News reigned on Thursday this week due to the interest in coverage coming out of Pakistan for the failed assassination and bloody aftermath.
FOX fell across all time periods last week; CNN triumphed with increases in LKL (it is very guest dependent) and at 10PM, everyone was down. 360 because of an unbelievably poor performance on Friday, Oct 19 – the lowest in months, brought the average of the program down further than its competitors. All demographic comparisons are for Adults 25-54 or 2+ where noted. Let’s see what happened hour by hour:
On a time period basis, CNN did very well in holding its audience with a 4 day OUT IN THE OPEN and a Friday of KEEPING THEM HONEST. The block was only down -2% from the week prior. That is small enough to be a statistical error on Nielsen’s part. FOX was down -8% as BILL O’REILLY took Friday off, and wow did it show. He lost -54% of his audience from Thursday in showing a repeat Friday. It didn’t really affect the Friday performance of CNN’s “HONEST,” but boosted COUNTDOWN’S audience that night. COUNTDOWN however, had its strongest night on Thursday. OUT IN THE OPEN’S best night was also Thursday – not surprising with the assassination attempt in Pakistan. 8PM on CNN still has its work cut out for it.
8PM Adults 25-54 (000):*
Fox News: 464,000
LKL’s best performance for the week was Thursday in Adults 25-54, but Joy Behar’s substitution for Larry King on Friday was the best performance for 2+. Fox’s HANNITY AND COLMES at 9PM did exceptionally well on Wednesday with a weak program on LKL with Dr. Phil. Even Dan Abrams beat LKL on Wednesday…think Larry better rethink Dr. Phil as a guest…perhaps Dr. Phil has enough exposure with his daytime program. For the week, H&C was down -7% in the key demo of Adults 25-54, LKL was up +17% to the prior week – LKL is very guest dependent for the ratings. Dan Abrams’ four day average and applied to five days (he doesn’t air on Fridays) was identical in audience from last week.
9PM Adults 25-54 (000):*^
Fox News: 321,000
With breaking news on Thursday, that was AC360’s best day. Friday…well for the key demographic of Adults 25-54, they deserted the program. But, oddly, 2+ was only off 12% from Thursday’s audience high, so it was the key demo that suffered. For Adults 25-54 on Friday, 360 was off a whopping 46% from its strong Thursday time period. For the total week, GRETA was off -5% from last week, AC360 was off -10% and MSNBC’S “Doc Block” was off -9% from the week before in Adults 25-54. If 360 hadn’t had such a disastrous delivery on Friday and held a typical average for 10PM, it would have only been off -4%.
Can’t blame Friday on Baseball...MSNBC and GRETA trounced 360 by 54% in the key demographic…could be just a ratings aberration since 2+ hung in there.
Did broadcast network programming affect 10PM? Well, on some nights, and only slightly this week. One can’t blame the nets on Thursday at 10PM with the meltdown of VIVA LAUGHLIN on CBS…yikes…canceled after two airings…mercifully.
10PM Adults 25-54 (000):*
Fox News: 299,000
Next week will be interesting with the California Fire coverage, PLANET IN PERIL and The World Series so stay tuned…Let me know your questions and I’ll try to answer them!
*Courtesy Nielsen Media Research; Adults 25-54 LIVE + SAME DAY (LS) Fast Track Nationals.
^ Abrams does not air Fridays – four day average applied to five days for a five day Abrams average.
And finally we'd like to wish James Carville a very happy birthday.