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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Ratings At A Glance For The Week of March 23, 2009

American Morning starts at 5am (ET) on Wednesday, April 1, 2009 to cover President Obama's speech at the G-20 summit live.

Ratings for the week MARCH 23, 2009 - MARCH 27, 2009

Adults 25-54
FOX795,500 1
CNN207,750 1
MSNBC414,250 1
Adults 25-54
Adults 25-54

Yet another week of FOX taking the top spot in the ratings for every hour of primetime on all five days. As for the other three networks, everyone gets to take a turn at coming in second, third, and fourth.

CNN came in fourth for the week in the Adults 25 - 54 demographic at 8PM. The 9PM hour bounced around a bit through the week in the demographic, with three third place finishes, one fourth place, and one second place. (BTW the second place finish was on Friday- the night that Tavis Smiley hosted the program.) The average for the week put CNN in third place at 9PM. At 10PM, CNN had the second highest average.

MSNBC gets third place at 8PM. During the 9PM hour, they had the second highest average and at 10PM, they claimed fourth place.

HLN was back in second place at 8PM. The 9PM hour averaged for the week in fourth. At 10PM, HLN comes in third place for the week.

1 4 day average ratings. Tuesday night Presidential primetime press conference not included.

^ Courtesy Nielsen Media Research; Demographics where noted; Live + Same Day (LS) Fast Track Nationals.

This past week has been filled with mountains of articles about the cable news ratings. Can't post them all, but here are a few that caught my eye:

From the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

As always with numbers — especially TV ratings — it depends on which ones you look at and who’s spinning them.

Case in point: Nielsen Media data released Tuesday on the ever fierce cable news network wars.

Executives at CNN boasted the network’s best first quarter in six years in terms of average viewership, but it still finished a distant second to Fox News and many news reports zeroed in on what happened in March: CNN dropped to third place behind Fox and MSNBC in the prime-time news category among viewers age 25-54.

CNN/US President Jonathan Klein downplayed the meaning of one month’s data and hung CNN’s hat on having the best first quarter in six years.

“CNN is more than ever the source of reliable news, and that’s how we like it,” Klein said.

Fox News declined interview requests.

Overall, Fox News averaged 1.2 million viewers during the entire first quarter. CNN pulled in an average 741,000 viewers during the time period. (Fox News and CNN have finished No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, since 2002.)

For the 8 to 11 p.m. news category among the prized 25-54 set, Fox News averaged 552,000 viewers in March — ahead of 332,000 at MSNBC and 288,000 at CNN, according to Nielsen data supplied by Fox News.

It was the first time CNN, owned by Atlanta-based Turner Broadcasting System, finished third in that category since it started nearly 30 years ago.

What worked during the first quarter last year — a prime-time lineup of election-based news shows followed by Anderson Cooper 360 — isn’t doing the trick now. Campbell Brown’s 8 p.m. show is pitted against two popular shows on the rival networks: “The O’Reilly Factor” on Fox and “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” on MSNBC.

And, News Corp-owned Fox in January launched the Sean Hannity show during the 9 p.m. prime-time slot to follow O’Reilly.

The fact that Fox News’ average viewership for the quarter grew 26 percent compared with a year earlier, vs. 17 percent growth for CNN, suggests Fox News may also be taking advantage of its more conservative reputation now that a Democrat is in the White House.

“We have seen some evidence that Fox was maybe benefitting more because it was the opposition network,” said Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Washington-based Project for Excellence in Journalism.

And from the New York Times:

MSNBC ran a countdown clock in preparation for the big event last Tuesday night. CNN’s run-up thrummed with portent, while a skeptical Fox News joined in the fervent speculation.

So what had the cable news stations in overdrive? A fairly routine, some might say boring, presidential news conference that did not make news.

That didn’t stop squad after squad of panelists from weighing in on CNN — tearing apart President Obama’s mien and message down to the last blink and nod. A huge electronic display showed a “word cloud” — words in a size that indicated their frequency of use. (Gee, I liked it better when John King used a digital maps to annotate and caress delegate totals.) And before it even started taking apart the content, Fox pointed out that the president had used — gasp — a teleprompter.

There is no question that the stakes are high in this presidency, and it’s hardly an epiphany that in order to feed the 24/7 beast, cable news has to turn every little thing into a big event. But something else is at work here. Gorged on ratings from a historic election and still riding on leftover adrenaline, the cable networks have steadfastly remained in campaign mode. And the hyperbolic rhythms and requirements of a cable news world have never seemed less relevant to the story at hand.

“On the cable networks, the intensity of conflict is what drives their shows, so everything is turned into a referendum,” said John D. Podesta, president of the Center for American Progress, who served as chief of staff for President Clinton and the co-chairman of the transition team for Mr. Obama. “It’s worse than it was four years ago, and its worse than it was four years before that. It’s on a new slope.”

Roosevelt used a radio to broadcast hope in grim times. Mr. Obama has many more megaphones at his disposal, but they go both ways, a feedback loop that threatens to drown out the message.

It’s not just a cable phenomenon: He’s done interviews with most of the big media outlets, and almost everywhere else as well — not only ESPN, “60 Minutes” on CBS and “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” on NBC but also Al Arabiya, Black Enterprise magazine, Telemundo and the Univision Radio host Eddie Sotelo, nicknamed Piolin.

Just in case you missed those, Mr. Obama went directly to the public on Thursday with a first-of-a-kind town hall meeting on the Web that was mostly a replay of the themes and data points from the Q. and A. with the professional journalists earlier in the week.

My children would say that Mr. Obama is on the verge of violation for oversharing. But he’s also fulfilling the demand of a media apparatus that requires ceaseless updating and a daily verdict.

After a recent round of big name renewals and contracts, the cable networks are loaded with red meat eaters and cud chewers. MSNBC is pretty much wall-to-wall politics with a roster to match — the obsessive Chris Matthews, the freakishly partisan Keith Olbermann and the reliably left-leaning Rachel Maddow.

Fox, too, sees politics everywhere, with Bill O’Reilly on the hunt for new enemies every day and Glenn Beck’s increasingly popular atavism. And CNN still has all manner of political boots on the ground — panels stacked like cordwood even though the election is long past.

In the old model of cable news, a neutral host would referee fire-breathers fighting it out from either side. But now the middle ground is eroding and everybody seems to be pushing something.

It’s been a bit of role reversal, with politicians lecturing about the need for reasoned debates and the people formerly known as journalists demanding that lines be drawn and various people be held to account.

How politicized is the current cadre of broadcast blabbers? Two cable news hosts — Mr. Matthews and Larry Kudlow of CNBC — had public dalliances with running for office themselves, and their networks were fine with it.

“I have been participating in this aquarium for 20 years and there has been a definite shift,” said Mark McKinnon, vice president for Public Strategies and a media adviser to both President George W. Bush and Senator John McCain. “It is not just a permanent campaign by the administration, it’s coming from the media. They clearly need that political crack to keep the ratings going.”

Some of the viewers seem to have noticed that all of the election coverage is short an actual election. According to Nielsen, CNN, after hitting 3.28 million viewers on average during the week of the actual election, had drifted down below a million by mid-March. Fox News, 3.54 million the week of the election, is still above 2.1 million, while MSNBC, which hit 2.17 million, had 886,000 the week of March 16.

One outfit that will probably do O.K. is the Obama administration. Regardless of how much traction his policies continue to lose, the president’s approval ratings are still high. Mr. McKinnon suggested that he should continue to seize the moment and don the sandwich board whenever possible.

“The success of his presidency will be determined by this first six months,” he said. “He doesn’t have the luxury of not swinging with everything he has right now. The dynamics of the office mean he will be out of political capital soon enough.”

But the business of governing, which involves incremental progress and endless negotiations, isn’t a made-for-television event — unless your only idea of television is C-SPAN. We’re not waiting for late returns from California any more. Instead, we’re getting unemployment figures from Michigan. While it’s a far less exciting story, it’s a far more important one.

And lastly, a link to an article titled CNN: Victim of Ideology, or Its Own Shortcomings? that describes CNN as the network forever seems to be planting a big "kick me" target on its back....

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Anonymous said...

So why does not CNN break the mold and
not do everything from a political spectrum?
For years a few talking heads have had to
much exposure on cable news.My worry is
that CNN is in denial and will try to stay with
a formula that looks old and outdated. CNN
needs to make changes .MSNBC is not doing
anything great it is just that CNN has managed
to mess everything up by adding people who
bring nothing to the table. Can Erica Hill and
TJ Holmes get a show in prime time. Lou Dobbs
and Campbell will never have mass appeal.
Please, please upgrade the Atlanta set it is
definitely and eyesore. Unless CNN sends some
very strong signals that they are different than
what people have been seeing on the air lately
they will not get viewers back. The only thing
they have going for them is Anderson Cooper
who was recently named an agent of change
by Rolling Stone. How is that Rachel Maddow
is able to get great guests and CNN can only
get pundits?

Anonymous said...

CNN had better shake things up sooner rather than
later. MSNBC is adding yet another program at 6.
The ratings for April 1 are on TV By the Numbers.
CNN was number 4 in the demo and 3 in total
viewers.CNN had better fix hours 6,7,8 and 9.
American Morning needs to gutted as well. AM
does the same thing each hour and is not even
updated during 3 hours of the program. Jon
Klein better have a plan like yesterday.Does
CNN need to hit rock bottom before they realize
there are some serious problems.

Anonymous said...

CNN blew it big time. The network should
have a female in the prime time lineup.
They really should hire Conor Knighton
to come on right before Anderson.CNN
can not win the hour with FNC & MSNBC
going younger for the hour. They need
to move Ed Henry off of the White House
beat, he is a joke.No more Chetry, Sanchez
Dobbs, Brown or King. Viewers are moving
from CNN to MSNBC.

Anonymous said...

This is what happens when you replace
journalists with pundits.

Anonymous said...

Jon Klein and the bosses have to realize that
CNN can't continue along the path it has taken.
You can't tell people how they feel or what they
think. Can someone tell me what is up with using
former Bush administration people. Somebody is
totally clueless. Every time I see Bill Bennett or
that Alex guy I turn the channel because I think
they are relics and things have changed and CNN
needs some new blood in the management ranks
who can understand that.To be blunt CNN is just
plain lazy these days.

Anonymous said...

There is just such a backlash against CNN.
The brand is damaged. Their AIG coverage
was the straw that broke the camels' back.
They got everything wrong with regards to
public outrage.

Anonymous said...

Can Erica Hill and TJ Holmes get a show in prime time. Lou Dobbs and Campbell will never have mass appeal.

I can't imagine what makes you think TJ Holmes would have more "mass appeal" than Lou or Campbell.

Please, please upgrade the Atlanta set it is definitely and eyesore.

Calm down... an upgrade is in the works.