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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Last Week's Ratings At A Glance


We already covered the primary in last week’s write-up, but I would like to make one notation to the flurry of press releases that followed the overnights from last week. CNN as you know won the Primary night from 7PM-12MD in both the key demographic target for news of Adults 25-54 and in Total Audience 2+. CNN was far and away #1 in both demographic categories. This isn’t surprising because CNN has been constantly leading the other channels in debates, analysis, primary coverage and primary analysis. In most instances the channel wins in the key demo, and in many instances takes Total Audience 2+. But, what is noteworthy is that MSNBC slipped by Fox News on Primary night in the key demo (they did not in Total Audience 2+). For MSNBC to beat Fox News in the key demo was a pretty good “thumpin” and Fox shot back the next day with a release that stated their audience did not lose as much audience tuning in the next night as CNN and MSNBC. Who cares? One is dealing with channels that skew differently, and CNN has great spikes in breaking news coverage. Is it a failing for the channel? No. Everyone can analyze to death the fall off of audience, but the fact is, I have always told you no one in media expects channels to hold onto an audience delivered with “event” programming. I could debate the differences in the percentage decreases and why they don’t matter much because of the way media is bought. So, let’s just leave it at that and let Fox News send out their releases.
Courtesy: CNN

Fox News: 590,000*
CNN: 268,000*
MSNBC: 365,000*

All channels aired Primary coverage on Tuesday, and yes, CNN did code their 8PM program as “ELECTION CENTER,” but they coded the whole night with that title, so I won’t give them credit for both regular programming and event programming. This average is without the Tuesday primary bump. It would have increased their weekly average to 470,000 if I counted the Tuesday coverage, so I’ll let you decide. Both Fox and particularly MSNBC would have also increased, if I used the primary coverage in their 8PM actual audience. But they were coded “primary coverage” and not Bill O’Reilly and COUNTDOWN so Tuesday could not be included in their five day average. Expect CNN to count that Tuesday as part of their 8PM time period average for the month. There is a difference in looking at what happens to audience in a time period hour rather than an actual program that airs in the time period – yes, I know this can be confusing, but it’s important. Billo is up a good 10% from last week, but MSNBC is down dramatically (126,000 average loss) and CNN is down just slightly.
Courtesy: Google Images

9PM: ^
Fox News: 425,000*
CNN: 313,000*
MSNBC: 191,000**

Again, Primary coverage aired on Tuesday, so Fox and CNN are 4 day averages with MSNBC only airing Dan Abrams 3 days last week. HANNITY & COLMES on Fox is up slightly over last week, as is LKL. Dan Abrams is down a hefty 20% and MSNBC announced some pretty big schedule changes this week for primetime to help boost the 8-11PM hours.
Courtesy: CNN

10PM: ^
Fox News: 371,000*
CNN: 393,000*
MSNBC: 201,000*

Yes, AC360 once again beat GRETA fair and square, even with a very weak Friday performance. The Tuesday CNN Primary coverage is NOT included in this average because it was not coded an “AC360.” MSNBC is down over 90,000 in audience from last week with its “docbloc.” The biggest change to affect MSNBC in primetime is moving the rebroadcast of COUNTDOWN into the 10PM Eastern time slot from its regular 12MD airing time. This will put the rebroadcast of COUNTDOWN up against AC360 and GRETA. Since MSNBC did fairly well in the time period with its “docbloc,” there is no question they are moving COUNTDOWN up against AC360 for competitive reasons. AC360 was the #2 program for all of primetime on Wednesday and Thursday, March 5 and 6, respectively (only behind Bill O’Reilly) – and this was with regular programming.

Additionally, Dan Abrams’ 9PM program will be renamed VERDICT to clarify to viewers that it will have a law focus. Outside of primetime, at 6PM Eastern TUCKER will be canceled and NBC Nightly News White House Correspondent David Gregory will take over the time slot with a politically based program called RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE. This will be up against THE SITUATION ROOM on CNN and BRIT HUME on Fox News.

MSNBC has clearly seen the benefits of political programming and wants a share of those ratings. Don’t expect CNN to sit back and watch its audience erode.


*4 day average; primary coverage aired Tuesday.
**3 day average; primary coverage aired Tuesday; “docblock” aired Friday.
^Courtesy Nielsen Media Research; Adults 25-54 audience; Live + Same Day (LS), Fast Track Nationals.

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