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Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Dr. Sanjay Gupta Interview and Ratings

The National Review of Medicine recently did an interview with Dr. Sanjay Gupta and it is a great read. You can read what Sanjay has to say about the tsunami, Iraq, Katrina and a few of his CNN co-workers by following the link.

That is it for me this week, I now leave you with our resident Ratings Guru with a wrap up from last week ~ Sapphire

Yes, With The March 4 Primary Night Thrown in for Good Measure!

Well, watch out for the “flame throwers” because The New York Times featured CNN’s ratings comeback with a Page One article in the Business section of the paper today (March 5). Everyone wants to be #1, and there are a lot of ways to analyze the audiences on cable channels. But stretching the truth or stating a ranking based on a really technical interpretation of the numbers is just not my style.

All the cable channels are running promos and print advertising which require real scrutiny to understand exactly how they are coming up with their statements. MSNBC for example, ran a color, full page ad in The New York Times saying “MSNBC was the most-watched network in all of TV.” True? Well, the sourcing on the ad says 10P-11P Tuesday only. Well who considers a channel “most watched” based on ONE HOUR, let alone that it consisted of 36 minutes of Debate and the rest, analysis. MSNBC also said they were the “#1 program on Cable” last week. That statement is true. Why not just go with the truth? The number #1 network in all of TV last Tuesday night was FOX – FBC that is, with “American Idol” and “Back To You” programmed from 8PM-10PM. Nothing the networks or cable programmed from 10-11PM even when FBC goes off the air, topped the Tuesday audience of FBC. As a side note, MSNBC also had the #2 program in all of Cable last week with the Debate analysis - a true statement. This gives them two true statements rather than one that so stretches the technicalities of research and one true statement just leaves their research and promotion department open to question. Why do that? Because all the cable channels do like to try to point out anything positive about their audience delivery.

Okay, now onto The Super Tuesday II primary coverage:

Courtesy: The New York Times/CNN

March 4, 2008 Primary coverage 7PM-12MD, Adults 25-54^:
Fox News: 830,000
CNN: 1,590,000
MSNBC: 876,000

No contest as to which channel audiences preferred to watch for primary results.

March 4, 2008 Primary Coverage 7PM-12MD, Total Audience 2+^:
Fox News: 2,980,000
CNN: 3,690,000
MSNBC: 2,040,000

Again, CNN was a solid #1 in Total viewers as well for the five hour block. CNN peaked at 9PM with 4.4 million Total Audience 2+!

Let’s keep in mind however, there was little to no coverage outside of network news on the broadcast nets – and that information was very early in the evening, even with an updated version for the Western states. Had the networks had a block of coverage, it could have been a much different outcome in terms of the numbers of viewers for cable. It is my opinion from experience that even with lower numbers, CNN would have still been #1 in CABLE because they have been in primary coverage for most of the state races.

While the timing was serendipitous, The New York Times’ Business section Wednesday (March 5) wrote a major feature on CNN’s resurgence in the ratings by focusing on very clearly defining the product with viewers that they are hard news and politics this year (according to President, Jim Walton). To be fair, the overall focus of the channel was written about, not that there are not variances on the air, from this philosophy.


Fox News: 504,000
CNN: 289,000
MSNBC: 491,000*

Bill O’Reilly typically takes this hour, but CNN’s ELECTION CENTER continues to inch up in audience delivery. Interestingly, ELECTION CENTER had its strongest night on the night of MSNBC’s debate – Tuesday – even though the program was on earlier than the debate. Viewers are clearly tuning in for political news. COUNTDOWN had an exceptional week due to an enormous Tuesday audience leading into the Debate coverage.

Fox News: 434,000
CNN: 308,000
MSNBC: 255,000**

HANNITY & COMLES had a weak Tuesday (MSNBC debate) and Friday, but was still able to post the #1 ranking. LKL had slightly lower than average performing programming for most of the week, but could still post a #2 finish. MSNBC’s Dan Abrams only aired 3 nights and while stronger than normal, still came in third.

Fox News: 369,000
CNN: 298,000
MSNBC: 295,000***

Greta won back audience this week with AC360 having a fairly weak performance during the week with the exception of a fairly strong Thursday. A low Tuesday because of the debate on MSNBC clearly hurt the program along with a weak Monday. Friday, while down, was not the worst day for 360 – Tuesday and Monday were the days that really dragged the average down for the week.

So that’s it – a fairly unexceptional week with just some unusual ratings statements on the part of MSNBC.

*Did not air Friday; debate rerun.
**Aired 3 days only; debate aired Tuesday and reran on Friday.
***Aired 4 days only; debate aired Tuesday.
^Courtesy Nielsen Media Research; Demographics noted; Live + Same Day (LS), Fast Track Nationals.

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1 comment:

Ratingsguru said...

Thanks Sapphire for the upload of the ratings information.

Not to comment on myself, but I noticed CNN ran a full page color ad in The New York Times today stating that they are #1 in Cable News primetime (Monday - Friday 8-11PM). I almost went blind trying to read the faint grey on black sourcing of the statement.
CNN does beat Fox News and MSNBC (they didn't bother to post CNBC, but they beat them too as well as their own Headline News) based on Adults 25-54, Monday - Friday Live + Same Day Jan. 28 - Feb. 17, 2008 and "blended" (whatever that means....) with Live + 7 Day Feb. 18-24, 2008 in order to comprise a month.
What this means is that if you take the TIME PERIOD HOURS of 8-11PM and the Adult 25-54 audience delivery, CNN will have an average of 750,000; Fox News will have 551,000 and MSNBC will have
Why does CNN win - they average everything that happened in that time period and we know they won big with primary and debate coverage. It includes the top delivering debates in Los Angeles, Super Tuesday, the Potomac Primary, etc - everything.
CNN does not win on 2+ - Fox News still edges them there, but CNN did beat Fox with this past Tuesday's Texas/Phio etc. primaries in Total Audience 2+ as well.
Is this a fair representation? Well, yes. If you want to look at primetime as a whole and not the individual programs. Is it important to the media community? Yes, because the block of primetime is an important barometer of success. Individual program performance is important, but so isn't primetime. Just know, this is not regular programming - it is everything that happened in the 8-11PM time period.