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Wednesday, January 2, 2008

PIP 2008, Iowa Caucus and the Ratings Guru

It seems that much of today's post is courtesy of CNN's American Morning. First up is a clip of Dr. Gupta sharing some big news for fans of Planet in Peril.

Next, have you ever wondered just what is a caucus and how does it function? Here's a very simple explanation of a very complicated process.

(You Can’t, So We’ll Look At The Time periods)

What a week – Dec. 24 – 28, 2007! We all went into it knowing the audience levels would be very low, because they always are. Then we had all news divisions (cable and network) scrambling to cover a major story on Thursday. CNN broke the story of the assassination of Ex-Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto at 7:21AM, EST on Thursday and was the only news organization with live reports for quite awhile because they have a producer based in country. Most channels then covered the story by satellite voice-over and stand ups outside of the country supplemented with footage feeds supplied by Pakistan’s television stations. Fox News and MSNBC went back to reruns or anchor subs on Friday primetime, so making sense out of the week is like trying to clean up after New Year’s Eve. CNN stayed mostly live with the assassination story on Friday with a repeat special on Afghanistan (8PM) Wolf Blitzer subbing for LKL (9PM) that included live reports from Nic Robertson (satellite from Switzerland) and Anderson Cooper and analyst Peter Bergen from Karachi, Pakistan. And at 10PM, a live edition of AC360 aired from Pakistan. Just as an FYI, most network news sent personnel from NY, London, (Lara Logan from Baghdad) and Christmas week anchor subs continued.

All audience averages include the live Thursday broadcasts from all cable channels. All other days of the week were filled with repeat specials or anchor subs, so let’s get into the week:

Fox News: 299,000
CNN: 195,000
MSNBC: 197,000

These numbers are really meaningless. Monday (Christmas Eve) O’Reilly did its lowest number I’ve ever seen with a repeat of his visit to Afghanistan. CNN did not carry an “Out in the Open” this week. Monday on CNN had a repeat of “What Would Jesus Do?” MSNBC had already gone into its "DocBloc" mode. Tuesday and Wednesday also showed all repeat programming or repeats of specials/investigations on all three channels. Thursday we’ll look at separately as that was a live news day for everyone. Friday was back to repeats on Fox News; CNN carried a Special Investigation at 8PM. CNN was a solid #2 on Thurs/Friday evening even though the week average doesn’t show it.

Fox News: 261,000
CNN: 238,000
MSNBC: 141,000

Again, a complete mix of taped specials, repeat investigations, "DocBlocs", repeat LKL’s other than Thursday/Friday made the 9PM hour very uneventful. Thursday will be looked at separately. CNN was once again a solid #2 on Thursday/Friday evening and for the week.

Fox News: 248,000
CNN: 220,000
MSNBC: 226,000

Fox had a special on Monday on Jesus, a solid block of repeat Bill O’Reilly programs on Tuesday, and repeats of GRETA on Wednesday and Friday. Christmas Eve, the 10PM hour of CNN registered a very low 78,000 viewers for “Rescuing Youssif” which unfortunately was the reason the time period was third for the week. One bright spot – the repeat of “Planet in Peril” aired on Christmas night starting at 8PM, and the 10-12MD block of the program (part two of the four hour special) DOUBLED the 8pm performance with 187,000 for Adults 25-54. That is really an excellent delivery considering how many times the special has aired – and yes it beat the repeats of Bill O’Reilly, 10P-12MD, but not MSNBC’s “Docbloc.” Wednesday was “Cooperless” and delivered average ratings – 233,000. Friday’s special edition of AC360 live from Pakistan barely missed beating a GRETA sub of Catherine Herridge – one could call it a statistical even delivery with only 5,000 viewers separating the two programs. Still, CNN was once again a solid #2 Thursday/Friday.


Fox News: 459,000 +35% over the channel week average
CNN: 328,000 +41% over the channel week average
MSNBC: 296,000 +33% over the channel week average

Bill O’Reilly did not come back to his program, as it really isn’t hard news. Fox News carried hard news with reports in a variety of ways to cover the story from Pakistan. CNN had Wolf Blitzer in the anchor chair instead of an “Out in the Open,” taking live reports from Pakistan with Anderson Cooper, Peter Bergen, Nic Robertson out of Switzerland as well as other reports. “Countdown” was live with Keith Olbermann, relying on NBC News for any reports out of Pakistan.

Fox News: 434,000 +40% over the channel week average
CNN: 385,000 +38% over the channel week average
MSNBC: 130,000 +8% over the channel week average

Fox News continued its hard news coverage of the breaking story from Pakistan and took the time period. Wolf Blitzer, subbing for LKL and handling live reports as he did in the 8PM hour, boosted the 9PM performance strongly from the rest of the week. MSNBC, oddly went back to its “Docbloc” format and the viewership suffered substantially. It was the one hour where viewers clearly expected the news to continue and tuned out.

Fox News: 429,000 +42% over the channel week average
CNN: 375,000 +41% over the channel week average
MSNBC: 251,000 +10% over the channel week average

GRETA came back for a live program to continue to carry news of the Pakistan crisis. Anderson Cooper was also back in the anchor chair for a live program continuing hard news for 30 minutes until John King took over. Cooper had announced he would be covering the assassination live from Pakistan Friday evening. And the AC360 numbers might be a little low based on how Nielsen computed a 7PM broadcast on the West Coast because AC360 did not air at 10PM – it’s stronger time period for the night. MSNBC stayed with its “Docbloc” and viewers, clearly expecting it to be there, tuned back in from a low delivery at 9PM.

CNN’s primetime programming had extremely high audience increases on Thursday night against the week audience average.

And just a side note: You are all probably seeing the “year-end” rating recaps being issued by various channels and networks. Nice publicity releases, but the industry rates the programs on a ratings year that is very different than a calendar year. The 2007/08 Television season began Sept. 24, 2007 and will end with the end of the May Sweeps – May 21, 2008. While advertisers will continue to track ratings delivery up until the start of the official new season – September 21, 2008, no one in television really looks at ratings performance on a calendar year basis. Upfront ratings guarantees are most important for the advertiser, and they are based on quarters beginning late Sept, 2007 and ending September 2008.

See you next week and let me know if you have any questions. Happy New Year!

^Courtesy Nielsen Media Research; Adults 25-54 LIVE+SAME DAY (LS) Fast Track Nationals.

1 comment:

Sapphire said...

oh a similiar documentry to PIP....I am excited to see what comes of that