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Thursday, January 24, 2008

The CNN Express and Last Week's Ratings

CNN’s Senior Business Correspondent and co-host of Your $$$$$ (Money) is on the road in CNN’s Election Express. Ali Velshi will travel from South Carolina to California. Velshi will visit nine states and travel 2600 miles, all in six days. He will stop along the way and talk to the voters about the economy and other issues at the forefront for them. If the weather cooperates look for the CNN Express on Thursday in Abilene, TX, Friday in El Paso, TX, Saturday in Phoenix, AZ and Sunday night in Los Angeles, CA To follow along or to just send Ali a comment the adventure is posted on the CNN Ticker.
In other CNN news Jack Cafferty is appearing with Sue Simmons at 92nd St. Y in NYC on Thursday night. Information about tickets can be found on the CNN Calendar.


Yup it’s only January and we are in full swing with political coverage of caucuses, primaries and yes, more debates. We are almost to the point of two debates a week along with a caucus or primary thrown in. And, Saturdays are now in the mix. Is it good for cable news? It’s GREAT for cable news – just imagine what would be covered if politics were not in full swing (in more ways than one, including mud slinging…). The race is starting to create candidate fall-out so the debates are smaller, the candidates are being “sound-bited” to death and the accusations, real or embellished are being hurled. What will it be like in May just prior to the conventions? CNN and MSNBC have the lion’s share of the debates along with an 8PM block on CNN each night now – “Election Center,” and primary coverage when it happens. CNN is still tops at primary coverage as well.

Let’s start with the weekly averages:

Fox News: 608,000*
CNN: 227,000**
MSNBC: 348,000

The CNN average with or without the special Lou Dobbs on Tuesday came in third in the time period. The viewership landscape is changing, and even with the interest in politics, ELECTION CENTRAL will need a little while to see if it can attract viewers. This block typically comes in third to Bill O’Reilly and COUNTDOWN.

Fox News: 441,000*
CNN: 296,000
MSNBC: 175,000***

Whatever happened on Monday for Fox News, it certainly helped each program’s average in the primetime block. HANNITY and COLMES had a very strong week. LKL had a solid week, with strong programs surprisingly on debate Tuesday and Friday evening. MSNBC without the debate average on Tuesday and its “DocBlock” on Friday remained a steady third with Dan Abrams only airing three days.

Fox News: 438,000****
CNN: 296,000
MSNBC: 150,000*****

Oh yeah, a lot of asterisks here with various programs being pre-empted from their regular fare on the channels. AC360 did air for five full days, and pulled a decent second finish. GRETA was on the road in the Middle East with President Bush and had a one-on-one interview with the President on Wednesday. This program helped her week average along with a very strong performance on Monday.

Program Note: MSNBC did air a Democratic debate on Tuesday night, Jan. 15, 2008 which aired from 9-11PM. They were far and away #1 for the time period along with their post debate analysis on MSNBC at 11PM. In the latest 2007/2008 debate ranking, it came in at #7. CNN with its debate this past Monday still holds the top 4 ranking cable debates, and 5 out of the top 10 in cable.

SATURDAY, Jan 19, 2008 Nevada Democratic Caucus and South Carolina Republican Primary:^

While the Nevada Caucus took place during daytime, Wolf Blitzer manned coverage in New York City. While we don’t get daytime figures, CNN was the strongest in audience delivery beginning at 5PM with its BALLOT BOWL program. CNN had a +17% advantage at 5PM with its BALLOT BOWL in comparison to Fox’s YOU DECIDE. MSNBC was just an also ran in the 5PM hour.
At 6PM, audience viewership tightened up MSNBC edged Fox News and CNN from 6-6:30PM, but Fox News bounced back at 6:30-7PM to edge out MSNBC and CNN.

At 7PM, ELECTION CENTER kicked in and so did the audience for CNN for the rest of the night. CNN led Fox News by comfortable margins to take the night not only in prime, but in averaging the entire block of Caucus/Primary coverage from 5PM-11PM Saturday night. MSNBC’s coverage strengthened considerably at 6PM to beat both Fox News and CNN, but that was the only hour. For the rest of the evening, CNN led all cable channels in covering the political scene.

Primary and Caucus coverage on CNN is setting the standard to be beat. But I’m still not saying “the phrase that shall not be named……”

See you next week and let me know if you have any questions. We’ll look at the age composition in the debates next week – you might find it interesting.

*4 day average; “You Decide” aired Tuesday against debate night on MSNBC.
**4 day average; Lou Dobbs special aired against Tuesday debate night on MSNBC.
***3 day average; democratic debate aired Tuesday; “DocBlock” aired Friday.
****4 day average; special Hannity & Colmes aired Tuesday.
*****4 day average; debate aired Tuesday.
^Courtesy, Nielsen Media Research, Adults 25-54, Live + Same Day (LS), Fast Track Nationals.

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