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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Veronica De La Cruz and the Ratings Guru

Veronica De La Cruz, most recently a news anchor for, has joined CNN’s flagship morning news program, American Morning, as an Internet correspondent, beginning Thursday, Oct. 18. Based in New York, De La Cruz will report on the hottest news from online sources and blogs and guide viewers through the most popular and essential stories from and i-Reports, the network’s user-generated content initiative.

“Veronica has demonstrated an enviable ability to connect with audiences on television as well as on the Internet,” said Ed Litvak, executive producer of American Morning. “Her enthusiasm and connections to CNN’s online audience make her a welcome addition to American Morning.”

For, De La Cruz anchored Live, CNN Pipeline and “Now in the News,” a fast-paced hourly Web- and wireless-exclusive news update. In that time, she anchored live coverage of major breaking stories including the death of former President Ronald Reagan, the tsunami in Southeast Asia, the Hezbollah-Israeli conflict and Hurricane Katrina. She also provided briefings on CNN/U.S. and Headline News about the most popular stories on and served as a substitute anchor for both networks.

De La Cruz joined CNN in 2003 after working as an anchor, reporter and producer at KYMA-TV in Yuma, Ariz. There, she anchored and produced a one-hour morning newscast as well as anchored a half-hour show at noon. She produced reports and did live shots for the evening newscasts. During her tenure at KYMA-TV, De La Cruz covered numerous stories on U.S.- Mexico border issues, the nation’s nursing shortage and the plight of the migrant farm worker. She also produced a series on the homeless, with whom she continues to do extensive volunteer work. She also serves as a spokeswoman for Lions Health First Foundation, which provides preventive health screenings for senior citizens and those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Before KYMA-TV, De La Cruz worked as a music journalist for SonicNet/Digital Planet and Eruptor Entertainment’s “Living Giant.” She began her broadcasting career hosting “Direct Drive,” a show she created for the Digital Entertainment Network.

Before beginning her career in journalism, De La Cruz spent a decade of her life as a competitive figure skater. She is a member of the Asian American Journalists Association and mentors aspiring broadcast-journalists at the Associated Press Television-Radio Association’s Academy.


RATINGS WEEK OF OCT. 8-12, 2007:

Baseball Playoffs and ESPN’s Monday Night Football are both having major impact on news viewership for the week Oct. 8-12, 2007. “The Boys of Summer” – baseball - have given TBS on average a 3 million boost in viewership against its typical drama average in primetime – a big ouch for the cable news channels…And ESPN Football, well Oct 8, with “America’s Team” (hey, I didn’t name them that, stop with the tomatoes) the Dallas Cowboys vs. the Buffalo Bills posted the highest viewership to date for the Monday primetime football airing – around 13 million viewers – a big double ouch! All programs were also affected on Friday with the start of baseball on the broadcast network FOX with a big match-up of the Red Sox and Indians. All audience comparisons are based on the demographic of Adults 25-54, the key demo the industry considers the most sought after target audience.

OUT IN THE OPEN was off in audience on Monday, as were most cable news/information programming due to the baseball/football impact. However, the 8PM block for CNN for the week is up 5% over last week’s performance. Any improvement in that very tough, competitive time period is something to say. Both Monday and Friday experienced very low audience, as did MSNBC without Keith Olbermann on the air on Monday; and Friday being Keith’s lowest performance. However, for the week, COUNTDOWN was up 12% over last week’s performance. BILL O’REILLY experienced the pain of Monday but came back Tuesday, Wednesday. O’REILLY does particularly poor on Fridays, losing 30% of his audience off of his weekly average for Adults 25-54 and -16% for his 2+ Audience.

Many of you might have noted with Billo’s appearance on Jay Leno that he touted his audience is over 4 million a night. Well, if one takes the audience delivery for 8PM, 11PM the overnight 4AM broadcasts, they do total around 4 million. Is it fair (after all, Fox News says they are ‘fair and balanced’)? Technically yes, but advertising would never value his audience that way, so for advertising purposes, it is a meaningless number. Ratings are established to sell advertising, not to be used as a PR ploy. And Mr. O’Reilly would never admit that only 23% of his audience is in the key advertising demographic of Adults 25-54 – now that is a triple ouch!

LKL surprising does the best audience performance on Fridays, when most news and information cable programming loses substantial audience. He had a very rocky week experiencing the baseball and football effect with a poor performance on Monday. The interview program was also affected by Tuesday’s Republican debate on MSNBC because the debate increased audience the time period for MSNBC by 63% at 9PM. MSNBC's normal programming - Dan Abrams is just not competitive in the time period against LKL. Wednesday was particularly strong for HANNITY and COMBS on FOX News. Broadcast affected everyone on Thursday night as it is the strongest night for broadcast television with Grey’s Anatomy and CSI airing at 9PM doing what we call “tent-polling” the night – meaning the programs attract viewers in anticipation of 9PM and hold viewers at the end, going into the 10PM show.

Does it hurt when an anchor isn’t on? Unless we can see the 15 minute breakouts of the program segments (and we don’t get those) it is impossible to tell. But Monday, Oct 8 was a low point for AC360 – up against baseball (bye-bye Yankees), football (close match for the Cowboys – a 1 point win) and a substitute anchor. To give you an example of the sports impact, AC360 bounced back the next night (Tuesday) with a gain of 89,000 viewers. Wednesday and Friday were its strongest nights, but the program was off an overall -7% from its last week’s performance for Adults 25-54. However, since MSNBC’s “doc block” can be a pesky problem for 360, this week AC and his crew gave them a real bruising on Friday – it was 360’s strongest night for the key demographic. Interestingly with baseball on Friday, AC360 had a good night for Adults 25-54, but not in 2+. Sports didn’t affect his core audience, but did appear to impact older and young viewers. Yes, baseball can skew to an older audience. GRETA, with the building up of the “Blonde Ambition” Rita Cosby tapes (and an extremely weak 360 on Monday) performed well against 360 this week. What was 360’s strongest night – Wednesday.

See you next week and let me know if you have any questions.

Adults 25-54 Audience Average, Week of Oct 8, 2007*^


Fox News: 503,000
CNN: 197,000
MSNBC: 300,000


Fox News: 344,000
CNN: 260,000
MSNBC: 136,000*


Fox News: 350,000
CNN: 237,000
MSNBC: 149,000

*No Abrams Tuesday – GOP debate and does not air Friday; 3 day average applied to five days for a five day Abrams average.
^Source: Courtesy Nielsen Media Research; Adults 25-54 LIVE+Same Day (LS) Fast Track Nationals.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Ratings Guru.You definitely make things
simple.I think I am starting to understand the
ratings a little better.One question though.
Next week if AC 360 airs for 1 hour after
2 hours of PIP will it count as a part of his
ratings ? said...

If CNN supplies Nielsen the PIP name of the program for the time slots then it will be rated as a separate program - a special. So no, it would not count as part of the 360 average. And, I can't imagine that they wouldn't want PIP ratings on its own, as they did for C. Anmanpour's specials.
PIP will be aired multiple times and in keeping with CNN tradition, the audience will be "cumed" - I won't even get into what that means unless I have to.

However, at this point, I can't predict how CNN will interpret and position the separate ratings performance of PIP and AC360 on those nights. The channel's ratings releases and advertising can be very interesting sometimes.

Ratings Guru said...

I know, I know, NOTE TO SELF - it is in Hannity & myself a good slap on the head...and HE'S the only liberal on Fox News....geez....