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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Last Week by the Ratings Guru

The Raw Data…
CNN Ratings Oct. 1-5, 2007

How did CNN do in primetime last week? Well, it all depends on how you look at it.
Controversy does help some programs. There is HUGE controversy with the new Live+3 Day (C3) Nielsen ratings (even though we use the LIVE+Same DAY (LS abbreviated) to give you a quicker look at ratings performance. Otherwise we’d be three weeks behind what has happened. And in NEWS, current (LIVE+ Same Day) is really just as representative.

We want to start with some pluses for CNN, even though in some sectors, they might be controversial. Hey, we can be controversial too – and besides, audience ratings analysis is all up to interpretation. We’re just not “over the top” interpreters.

We like to look at what advertisers look at, as that is the basic reason the rating of a program’s audience was established - to sell advertising.

The most accepted audience in news delivery is Adults 25-54. Now I don’t personally believe that, but who am I to question the top prognosticators in the industry? Does Fox News beat CNN in Adults 25-54? Most nights, Yes. Is that the only consideration? No. Advertisers look at the total audience of a program and take into consideration the percentage of its target audience is from its total audience (2+). Why? It’s a big why. Because advertisers want to reach their target audience -- they don’t want substantial audience outside of that target audience in age because they don’t want to pay for audience they don’t care about. And channels do take into consideration the strength of a program’s overall audience in pricing it. The adage is buy programs that are predominately in your target demographic. You’ll have a balanced advertising buy that way.

So let’s look at the numbers that show the audience FOX News, CNN and MSNBC have in the target versus how much they have in 2+.

Percentage of News Audience Week of Oct 1, 2007*^

8PM: 2+(000’s) Adults 25-54(000’s) % 25-54 Versus 2+
Fox News: 2,296,000 495,000 21.5%
CNN: 518,000 188,000 36.5%
MSNBC: 744,000 265,000 35.5%

9PM 2+(000’s) Adults 25-54(000’s) %25-54 Versus 2+
Fox News: 1,565,000 382,000 24.4%
CNN: 971,000 312,000 32.0%
MSNBC: 377,000* 131,000* 34.5%*

10PM 2+(000’s) Adults 25-54(000’s) %25-54 Versus 2+
Fox News 1,129,000 294,000 26.0%
CNN: 728,000 256,000 35.0%
MSNBC: 407,000 196,000 48.0%

Didn’t think anyone could make #1 Fox News look bad with its large audience did you….the best they can muster is GRETA with 26% of her audience in the key demo. That means 74% of her audience isn’t in the sought-after demographic. As you can see, it’s worse at 9PM and exceptionally bad at 8PM with Bill O’Reilly.

One can clearly see the audience distribution advantage of Adults 25-54 CNN clearly has over all other channels with the one exception of the “Doc Block” on MSNBC. That block really helps MSNBC. One could argue that the programming in the “Doc Block” is not really in the current news/information genre for the rest of the channels and time periods. And further, we know LKL does skew old, and MSNBC delivering only 377,000 Adults 2+, it really isn’t competitive yet.

Other considerations about last week:
· Well, we need to get a little non-traditional here. ESPN’s football in primetime is affecting CNN and MSNBC the most. An educated researcher can make the assumption that this happens because their viewers are younger and more channel switching oriented than the much older Fox News viewers. Older audiences tend to remain very loyal.
· When controversy erupted on “Out In The Open” last week, viewers tuned in. Its highest rated nights were Monday and Tuesday.
· Fox News does exceptionally poorly on Friday nights. LKL and 360 beat Fox news in the key demographic 9PM and 10PM. Even ratings winner Bill O’Reilly loses 24% of his key demographic on Friday night at 8PM.
· Without the “Britney/ESPN Football” Monday affect, 360 would have only lost to GRETA by 5% for the week - that would have been really something to shout about considering the program narrowed its loss to GRETA for the month of September to 9%. 360 is making a real ratings impact against GRETA, but she still has very strong nights. With Monday’s “Britney/ESPN Football,” 360 lost by 13%. Tuesday, 360 bounced back with an audience gain of 86,000 viewers – and only lost to GRETA by 4%. And on Friday, 360 beat GRETA by 27% in the key demographic of Adults 25-54.
· There isn’t consistency with 360 beating GRETA, but the program is starting to make real in-roads.
· LKL is really dependent on older viewers tuning in for a mass audience to even think about beating HANNITY and COMBS, but he also can beat that Fox News program. His program is very topic and guest dependent. The “Britney/ESPN” affect was extremely adverse for LKL on Monday and did not help by providing any strong viewer “lead-in” to 360. LKL’s Adult 25-54 viewer gain Monday to Tuesday was 61,000, far less than 360’s.
· How low was 360’s Monday performance? I had to go back to late July, 2007 to find an Adults 25-54 that was lower…
· CNN has complete dominance over MSNBC 9P-11PM. And, it’s pretty much an unfair battle right now with no marketing and varied programming in the 8PM block up against entrenched viewers of COUNTDOWN and BILL O’RELLY.

So when someone says Fox News is #1, there is much more to consider than just “the raw data….”

Let me know your questions and I’ll do my best to answer them. See you next week!
Ratings Guru

*Dan Abrams, Mon-Thur, average taken for 5 days as program does not air (DNA) Fridays.
^Courtesy Nielsen Media Research; demographics and week noted; Live+Same Day (LS).


Anonymous said...

Are we to draw any conclusions for the core
audience of these programs from the commercials
we see during each news show ? said...

Sometimes. There is somewhat of a difference in the commercials (we call them "spots")that air in these cable news/information programs.

News on the whole tends to skew old, so that is why you see the typical pharamaceuticals, insurance, financial, communication advertising which have a much older or wider target than typical series programming.

Advertisers who want a lot of spots for a low cost and will air in any program without restrictions tend to be minimal, but they do buy news - like the "Head-ons" of the world...They get a lower cost because they give the channels the greatest flexibility to air the spot anywhere they want.

360 for example, has a somewhat wider base of advertisers because it has better demographics, good audience composition (the percentage of the target audience is their key demographic out of the whole 2+ audience) along with a "hard news" positioning rather than discussion/informational programs airing on the channels we analyze.
COUNTDOWN on MSNBC probably runs a close second in varied advertisers due to its increase in audience over the last year.
And CNN as a channel, unlike the others has the ability to accommodate a "worldwide" buy - an advertiser who wants to be on CNN domestic and international. For some, that is a huge plus - one stop shopping - usually image advertising or advertisers who want to reach the business traveler.

There aren't a huge amount of advertisers which have wide demographic targets, thus being able to consider the programs that have much older audience - but enough that they tend to want news programming as part of their advertising buy, so there is a healthy market.

There are advertisers who just want to be associated with a program because of its environment - it makes a branding statement to the consumer, and news fits the bill there too.

Advertisers then start to look at what we call "psychographics" - lifestyle and income to then determine which programs best suit their criteria.

Hope that answers...
Ratings Guru

Anonymous said...

I hope someday Nielsen has some comp.
Now that we live in the global village, I
understand that CNN can use it's global
resources to attract advertisers.I feel
if it is more than one company in the
mix it makes the others perfrom better.
I would be great if CNN could be a
24/7 cable news network again only
and do one repeat of the prime time
shows for the west coast.If ABC and CBS
can go overnight, so should CNN.