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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Rick Sanchez and The Ratings Guru

I've got some real treats for you today. First up is a clip from Thursday morning's American Morning. This crew was having way too much fun for having to work on Thanksgiving Day.


Next we have a clip of Rick Sanchez interviewing the Red Mountain Boys of You Tube fame. Speaking of Rick I really hate to see Out in the Open be replaced by Campbell Brown's new program. Nothing against Brown but Rick is doing a fabulous job and is a great balance to Lou Dobbs. Thanks to Annie Kate for the clip.


And yes, we’ll look at the rest of the week…Nov. 12-16, 2007^

CNN had a stellar performance in its November 15, 2007 debate for all age groups – quite a feat as Adults 18-34 typically don’t watch a lot of main stream television channels, let alone political debates. But the event did well with all ages for a number of reasons:
• It was in November and television viewership is high with the new season in full swing (well, at least until the networks run out of scripts due to the writer’s strike, then things will get really interesting, and maybe pretty boring…how does 5 days a week of American Idol sound?).
• Eastern Standard Time is back, and yes, believe it or not it spurs television viewership.
• The primary season is upon us (60+ days) and US audiences are more interested in the candidates and what they have to say.
• There has started to be a real defining dialog that is pointing out differences in the candidates and people clearly want to hear more.
• Polls are showing there are great concerns about the direction of the country, and now is the time to start paying attention to what the candidates are saying – polls as well as economic reports do drive interest.
How well did CNN do? The best debate of 2007 so far. There have been 17 debates so far on all networks and cable channels combined, and this past one beat the number two debate by +20%. That is A LOT when the #2 debate on Fox was a republican debate, and although it aired in early September (lower viewing levels) it aired an hour later which can offset the November television viewing levels (called HUTS – Homes Using Television) somewhat.
• CNN has four out of the top 10 debates airing so far in 2007. All three Fox News debates have also ranked in the top 10, but CNN has had both repubs and dems. Democrats have not agreed to this point to do a debate on Fox News citing they believe the channel would be biased. MSNBC has two in the top 10, their third knocked out by a well viewed one on ABC in August.
• It will be very interesting to see if the republican YouTube debate delivers the same young audience the democratic version did. This latest debate is almost a statistical dead heat in Adults 18-34 delivery in comparison to the July YouTube debate, which is pretty astounding. July television viewership levels are very low, but young adults tuned in. We’ll see what happens with a debate format that clearly appeals to young viewers airing in the high viewing levels of November. It is the last day of the November Sweep, but luckily a Wednesday – not up against GREY’S ANATOMY and CSI on the networks.

Okay, now let’s see what else happened last week. Next to the audience figures is the percent increase or decrease from last week:


Fox News: 510,000 -11%
CNN: 231,000* +37%
MSNBC: 284,000 -2%

The only real point of note is Bill O’Reilly keeps topping his best performance at least one night a week – and it was Monday for him last week – 691,000 Adults 25-54. He fell steadily for the rest of the week winding up losing 43% of his audience on Friday versus Monday – go figure…He was then off to Afghanistan for the weekend to see the troops. His audience average is off from last week due to a weak performance against the CNN debate and his usual Friday fall off of audience. OUT IN THE OPEN is up nicely even applying the 4 day average to five days to eliminate the debate audience. It is the program, on a percentage basis, improving the most from last week. COUNTDOWN is basically statistically even with last week as 2% falls within Nielsen’s margin of error.


Fox News: 361,000 -20%
CNN: 330,000** +0%
MSNBC: 142,000*** -7%

Again, because of the strong debate performance, HANNITY & COLMES is down from its prior week’s performance. Even though we have subtracted the debate out of LKL’s numbers, the weakness on Thursday night greatly affected H&C’s performance for the week. LKL’s audience is flat from last week, which is not a bad thing since the other two programs are down. Again, CNN had such an enormous impact for the week with the debate, it severely stunted other programming across the board – a real plus!


Fox News: 345,000 -4%
CNN: 367,000 +34%
MSNBC: 193,000 +0%

Now don’t get too excited here. Yes, it is a win for 360 over GRETA – the first in a long, long time, but there is a BIG qualifier. I used the debate analysis audience on Thursday night as CNN smartly coded it a 360 broadcast and therefore Nielsen had to report it as a true 360 broadcast. We all know that program never comes close to doing 727,000 Adults 25-54 (even fire coverage was in the 500,000 range – and that was very high for the program). But, fair is fair, and if it is coded and labeled by Nielsen as 360, we have the right to average it with the other nights. Friday night, “Cooperless” dropped dramatically to 242,000, a -34% decline from the week’s average. MSNBC investigations were basically equal to last week’s performance.

So, overall a good week for CNN, but they can give a big thank you for the help from the debate. Let me know if you have any questions, and I’ll see you next week.
Ratings Guru

*4 day average applied to 5 days because of the debate pre-empting programming on one day.
**4 day average applied to 5 days because of the debate pre-empting programming on one day.
***4 day average applied to five days. Dan Abrams does not air on Fridays.
^Courtesy Nielsen Media Research; Adults 25-54 LIVE + SAME DAY (LS) Fast Track Nationals.

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