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Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Ratings At A Glance

All photos courtesy of CNN/Justin Larose, CNN

But Not with CNN’s Primary Dominance

Yeah, I had to play on Sam Cooke’s (and for you IDOL fans – Syesha Mercado’s song choice) terrific song for my swan song. Yup, change has come in a big way for me within the industry that does not allow me to continue my ratings posts. I’m completely convinced television is in my DNA, which I guess is a good thing since it is my career, but not so good if you want to blog and not run into conflicts. Phebe and the gang have been wonderful hosts to me, and I know plans are in the works to be able to keep you informed.

At least my last post will continue to include great news for primary coverage on CNN. Since last night is fresh in our minds, we’ll do the primary coverage first and then get into last week’s ratings. All channels began their coverage at 7PM with dramatic ratings fall off at the 11PM hour, so we have averaged 7PM-12MD. MSNBC did start their coverage an hour earlier, but it was third in the time period, so we are going to keep everyone’s hours consistent for comparison.

Tuesday, May 5, 2008 Primary and Results Coverage for Indiana and North Carolina:

How could we use any other photo but John King at the “Magic Board?” He, along with CNN, has received great media publicity recently with this technical expertise that all feel sets them apart from the other channels. And let’s face it; it’s pretty cool when you can look at individual precincts and a color coded map to understand how urban areas versus rural areas sway the vote. There were times when John just shrank and opened areas of the map to have some kind of visual going on in the background. You know it’s a long night when the control room tells you to play with the board. My favorite moment I must admit was when John King and others kept asking the mayor of Gary, Indiana what was taking the vote count so long and got the same answer at least six times. I started singing “Gary Indiana,” the song I got so bored.

7PM – 12MD, Adults 25-54:^
Fox News: 555,000
CNN: 964,000
MSNBC: 641,000

Yes, CNN was first by a long shot, but once again with the help of NBC News personnel, MSNBC came in second in the key demo. Fox News was fairly consistent throughout the entire night where as 9PM – 12MD really popped for CNN. MSNBC was second 9-12MD, but nowhere close to CNN’s performance.

7PM-12MD, Total Audience 2+: ^
Fox News: 1,981,000
CNN: 2,414,000
MSNBC: 1,523,000

CNN did lose the 7PM and 8PM hours to Fox in Total Audience 2+ but then just crushed them 9PM – 12MD. MSNBC was only close in the 10PM hour, but still had very respectable audience numbers for this primary night. CNN topped out at 2,178,000 at the 10PM hour when most analysis kicked in from the North Carolina Primary and the two speeches by the candidates. Indiana kept the channels cranking until well after midnight until a squeaker of a win was declared for Senator Clinton in Indiana.

While there may be political fatigue, on a primary night, the American public wants to know what is going on.

And now onto last week:

Fox News: 620,000
CNN: 219,000
MSNBC: 341,000

Billo had an exceptionally high Wednesday when he interviewed Hillary Clinton. It had a great deal of advance press and promotion, so it brought up his average for the week fairly dramatically. Campbell Brown’s strongest night was Monday with 305,000 – a weak Thursday and Friday pulled her average down. MSNBC is up nicely from the week prior even with a weak Wednesday performance. Oddly, Campbell Brown’s audience didn’t shift much with the Clinton interview on Fox News, but COUNTDOWN’s audience did – it was its worst night of the week.

Fox News: 484,000
CNN: 299,000
MSNBC: 200,000

Go figure, HANNITY & COLMES beat Billo on Tuesday. Usually it is the other way around most nights – O’Reilly’s program helps H&C by providing a strong and solid lead-in to their program. And on Wednesday, H&C lost 437,000 viewers after the Clinton interview. You know, Fox News makes it a point to beat CNN up when they lose audience after “event” programming. Most channels do, but this year with politics being of interest, cable news/information is up over its performance the year prior. CNN typically settles into normal viewership after a debate or primary coverage, after being #1 for the night. Well, it seems that viewer’s program choices are variable as well, thus the major cliff dive taken after Bill finished with the Senator. Dan Abrams was up nicely over last week with his strongest night being Tuesday.

Fox News: 374,000
CNN: 324,000
MSNBC: 208,000

GRETA had two exceptional nights Monday and Tuesday which helped her to the #1 position for the week. Oddly, GRETA and 360 tied in the key demographic of Adults 25-54 on Friday. Friday was not AC360’s lowest night – Thursday was. Cooper & Company had a high of 396,000 on Monday, but Thursday sank to 258,000 – quite a swing in one week. Personally, I think it has much to do with sampling and story coverage than any major audience shifts or tune-outs.

So there you have it. I always wished I could have gotten into more demographics for you as well as gender splits. It would explain the audiences so much better – but we just didn’t have access to that kind of information. I will in my new position, but unfortunately, it will be “zip the lips” when it comes to blogging.

As opinion free as I could be, I hope I gave you a little insight into the arcane world of ratings.

^Courtesy Nielsen Media Research; Demographics where noted; Live + Same Day (LS) Fast Track Nationals.

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Sapphire said...

RG - You will certainly be missed but all the best in your new job. I always enjoyed reading your posts because you made it easy to follow along with great explaination.

I know you can not post any longer but don't be a stranger in the comment section :)

Ratingsguru said...

Thanks Sapphire!
I know I will love my new job once I get used to all the changes in corporate atmosphere - WHEW!
I'll try to make a comment that won't get me in trouble in the future!