The regularly schedule Ratings At A Glance feature will return next week. This week I have a few ratings related articles for you ponder.
HLN SCORES MOST GROWTH OF ANY CABLE NEWS NETWORK Nancy Grace Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell Posts Highest 7 P.M. Ratings in Network History Beats Countdown with Keith Olbermann for Third Consecutive Month
In February, HLN posted the largest year-to-year gains of any cable news network in primetime, the third consecutive month it earned that claim among both total viewers and the key P25-54 demographic. It also enjoyed more P25-54 growth than its competitors in total day for the recently completed reporting period. HLN’s growth was fueled in part by the success of Nancy Grace at 8 p.m., which beat MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann in the key P25-54 demo to rank as the No. 5 program in all of cable news.
HLN’s M-Su primetime audience grew by 56 percent in total viewers over a year ago (671,000 vs. 431,000) and by 62 percent in P25-54 (272,000 vs. 168,000), with each weekday program from 7 p.m. on enjoying increases in excess of 30% in the key P25-54 demo. Gains in total day were also impressive, building by 19 percent in total viewers (333,000 vs. 279,000) and 28% in P25-54 (151,000 vs. 118,000).
Nancy Grace topped Countdown with an average of 470,000 P25-54 viewers at 8 p.m. in February 2009, versus the 448,000 mark attained by Countdown. Nancy Grace’s audience grew an impressive 83 percent over last year in the key demo and 74 percent in total viewers – the greatest growth of any cable news program in its time period. Nancy Grace also outperformed Countdown among P25-54 in their same-day repeat telecasts at 10 p.m. (310,000 vs. 285,000).
In its fourth full month on the air, Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell posted the network’s largest 7 p.m. audience in P25-54 (241,000) since the launch of HLN’s primetime block in February 2005 – beating its own record set last month. The show also scored the largest P2+ audience at 7 p.m. in the network’s history (596,000).
Showbiz Tonight scored its highest month ever at 11 p.m. in the P25-54 demo (237,000). The show also scored the most growth in the demo in its time period with an impressive 33 percent gain over February 2008.
From the AP on cable news ratings:
NEW YORK – The end of the presidential campaign hasn't meant the end of interest in cable news programming, particularly those shows that filter stories through the strong points of view of their hosts.
Fox News Channel and MSNBC showed double-digit percentage increases in viewership on February, compared to the same month a year ago, according to Nielsen Media Research. CNN showed some declines, which the network partly attributes to extraordinary viewership for presidential debates it held in February 2008.
Plainly, the story of a new administration dealing with an economic crisis drives interest. But cable has moved in the direction of programs centered on a host with strong views, and it's apparent that viewers became used to them during the campaign and stuck around for the start of the Obama administration.
"Those of us who have strong personalities in prime time are going to do better at this," said Phil Griffin, MSNBC's chief executive.
Fox News Channel is up 29 percent in total viewership this month compared to February 2008 (Nielsen's February measurement is actually Jan. 26 through Feb. 22), and it remains the cable news leader.
"The O'Reilly Factor" — the most popular prime-time program on cable news (3.6 million viewers) — is up 33 percent over February 2008. "Hannity" is up 38 percent from the year before, when he was partnered with liberal co-host Alan Colmes.
For Fox, it's a resounding answer to the notion that the network would lose audience or influence with the beginning of the Obama administration. Those who predicted that may have forgotten the network established its popularity during the Clinton administration.
O'Reilly's nemesis, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, is up 32 percent to nearly 1.4 million viewers, Nielsen said. Rachel Maddow's talk show had 1.2 million viewers, more than double what the network aired in her time slot last year.
MSNBC's Griffin acknowledged he was surprised the numbers have held up so well.
"The game has changed," he said. "The news game is on cable. We are still in an interesting, important time when people are glued to what's going on ... The voices they hear on cable are the ones they've come to identify with."
MSNBC's prime-time weekday average of 1.16 million viewers in February was up from 881,000 last year. Fox's average of 2.84 million is up from 2.22 million in 2008. CNN's average dropped from 2.04 million last year to 1.37 million this year, Nielsen said. CNN argues last year's numbers were inflated because they included three exclusive presidential debates the network sponsored; take out those three nights and the average was 1.47 million.
Larry King's audience is up this year, but viewership dropped for "Anderson Cooper 360." And CNN's 8 p.m. hour, now hosted by Campbell Brown; last year it had rotating hosts as "Election Center."
"I think CNN is going to have some big decisions to make," Griffin said.
Not so, said Jon Klein, CNN U.S. president. He's bullish on the network's prime-time approach, which he defines as telling stories with no political agenda. He noted that CNN had its best February taking into account all time slots since 1995, when there was no Fox News Channel or MSNBC.
"That's how we have made our name — by separating ourselves out from the predictable, impotent rage of the partisan extremes," Klein said. "Look at Campbell Brown's show. It is all about delivering the dose of common sense and clear thinking that is necessary for a time like this, and we don't mean clear thinking as a euphemism for our way of thinking or ideology."
CNN's ratings are also deflated because viewers, on average, tend to stick longer with shows on the competition.
Fox declined to make an executive available for an interview.
And one last article:
Is CNN destined to wind up the No. 3 cable news network? It may be premature to ask that, but you have to wonder after the release of February ratings numbers that show MSNBC gaining fast from behind while Fox News continues to surge out ahead.
Both of those networks, of course, make abundant use in prime time of a weapon that CNN refuses to wield: partisan opinion. At 8 p.m., Bill O'Reilly and Keith Olbermann crush Campbell Brown's buzzy but weird experiment in commentary without ideology, No Bias, No Bull. In the 9 o'clock hour, Rachel Maddow appears to be on a course to overtake Larry King in a matter of months, if not weeks, a development that will surely hasten his already-overdue retirement. Only at 10, where MSNBC rebroadcasts Countdown, does CNN seem secure at No. 2 -- and that could evaporate if MSNBC makes good on a threat to develop a new show for the slot.
Discussing the February ratings with AP, MSNBC president Phil Griffin suggested that it's CNN's lack of hosts with partisan points of view that's holding it back. "Those of us who have strong personalities in prime time are going to do better at this," he said, adding, "I think CNN is going to have some big decisions to make."
In fact, those decisions were made long ago, and it's unclear whether CNN could reconsider them even if it wanted to now that MSNBC has taken up the positioning -- the liberal answer to Fox News -- that CNN has so strenuously avoided for years. All that remains is for CNN to hype its centrism -- in that same AP story, network president Jon Klein boasts that "we have made our name by separating ourselves out from the predictable, impotent rage of the partisan extremes" -- and hope it's enough of a draw to prevent a slide to No. 3.
Is anyone really surprised that CNN's ratings for February are down? Last year's primary coverage was an incredible boost for CNN primetime... this year there just isn't as much excitement going on... just night after night of bad news.
Anyhow, there's been a lot of discussion over the last few weeks about what's wrong with CNN's lineup and why their ratings aren't living up to expectations. So if we could wave a magic wand and put you in Jon Klein's seat- what would your CNN line up would be from 6 AM - MIDNIGHT
Who would get a time slot and when?
Who would get sent back to the correspondent desk?
Who would get a pink slip?
What programs would get a content overhaul?
Also keep in mind when you're making these grand decisions- some of these folks have good sized contracts that you'd still have to pay even if you show them the door. Like it or not- news is a business and you have a parent corporation and stock holders to account to.
Until next week... talk amongst yourselves...