OlbermannWatch.com "My Faves" Set
OlbermannWatch.com Favorited Photos from other Flickr Users
Got OlbyPhotos? See some on Flickr? DO NOT email us. Send us a FlickrMail instead. Include a link to the photo. If we like the photo you will see it displayed in the Olby Flickr Flood above.
New to Flickr? Sign up for a FREE Flickr account!
New to YouTube? Sign up for a FREE YouTube account!
|Subscribe to Olbermann Watch Mailing List|
|Visit this group|
Last October, during the height of the hype and hoopla generated by the decidedly liberal members of the Television Critics Association, I wrote A few words on RATINGS REALITY... in order to put some perspective on the nonsense being put forward by the likes of USA Today, Associated Press and other members of the MSM. Now we have perhaps some overkill coming from the other direction in the form of charts provided by, conveniently enough, Fox News Channel and CNN.
Q1 Numbers: Countdown declining in the Demo?
Inside Cable News
March #'s: Olbermann, Zahn Trend Down
According to THESE charts, Olbermann is now tanking in the "all-important" 25-54 "demo". In both cases the charts are a bit misleading.
Yes, Olbermann is crashing in the demo since the election last fall:
And the demo numbers for Olbermann have to be a little discouraging for MSNBC flack Brian Stelter but comparing them to the soon-to-be-replaced Paula Zahn does not make them any better (note to Paula, you might want to reconsider those "zipper" ads from a few years ago).
It strikes Olbermann Watch as more useful to look at Keith's ratings over the long-term by looking at the annual ratings data. As you can see from the chart below Keith has had a modest gain in overall viewership since taking over the 8 PM slot on MSNBC from Phil Donahue and is actually DOWN slightly in the vaunted demo.
At the height of Olbermannia, I asked "how I can be so certain that these 'OlbyLoons in journalists clothing' are manipulating the Nielsen ratings data and are playing fast and loose with ratings data to portray Keith in the most positive possible light in order to justify their constant drumbeat of Keith Olbermann's supposed ratings juggernaut?"
You can read the whole piece for yourself but the answer turns out to be simple - look at the actual data over an extended period of time and you see the hype was much ado about nothing. I concluded by making the following observation:
A spin-free analysis of the data would tell you this:
Keith has shown a modest increase, both overall and in the demo, over the past couple of years. During the current year, Keith showed modest improvement in the first quarter of this year courtesy of NBC Sports airing some Winter Olympic events on MSNBC thus serving as a lead-in for Countdown but was unable to retain that new audience. He saw his numbers drop significantly in the spring and has had a bit of a rebound during the last quarter.
Compare that reality with the constant KO hype in the MSM and hopefully you can appreciate why I scoff at these absurd claims that KO is UP 33% or UP 69%. He is doing better than last year. He is not doing that much better. And compared to the beginning of the year he is doing worse. O'Reilly is doing worse but not that much worse. Compared to O'Reilly, Keith has narrowed the gap slightly but is still getting trounced by any measure you choose.
More importantly, compared to himself, Keith has not been able to demonstrate any consistent ability to build and sustain an audience since his show first went on the air in 2003.
At the time, I compared the hype around Keith to the treatment Air America Radio got before it even launched. Recall how the same press was "amazed" when their constant drumbeat got people curious enough to listen and then fell silent when Air America listenership began to implode.
Predictably, the Olbermann hypesters were "amazed" to Olbermann's number swell as the 2006 election neared and have now fallen silent as Olbermann's ratings have slumped off their highs.
All of this got me to thinking that we at Olbermann Watch ought to come up with our own reporting metric to evaluate the ratings for Countdown and produce our own charts and analysis rather than rely on the cable channels themselves. Our charts may not be as pretty but they will be based on a straight look at the data based on an independent analysis.
What we will be doing is calculating what I believe to be a far more meaningful number - a quarterly moving average calculated throughout a given quarter - and then a quarterly progress report showing overall growth across the much broader trend of quarterly numbers going back to 2003. I am not going to go back and pull all the quarterly data going back to 2005-4Q so I will just produce a quarterly chart based on applying the annual data to the quarters in 2004 and 2005 and using an adjusted number for 2003 when there were actually three different shows in the 8 PM time slot on MSNBC (Donahue, Countdown: Iraq, Countdown with Keith Olbermann). Countdown: Iraq numbers were 429/214 and Countdown with Keith Olbermann numbers were 347/140 in 2003 so I average them together to come up with 347/140 for the second half of 2003. If someone wants to go find the actual quarterly data let me know but for our purposes these numbers will suffice. We are really more interested in the more recent quarters.
Here is the inaugural version of our new quarterly "lifetime" chart:
It appears that as 2007-1Q came to a close, Keith began to experience the reality of news programming - there is a limited appetite among younger people for news. He has shown tremendous growth in total viewers over the past six months ago but after a surge in the 25-54 demo last fall he has basically fallen right back to where he was before the MSM hype-machine cranked into full gear last September.
As we have observed in the past, Keith's audienced have always ebbed and flowed. And throughout there have been two constants. One, that Keith has never shown an ability to retain surge-driven audiences (invasion of Iraq, Summer Olympics, 2004 election, Katrina, Winter Olympics, MoveOn.org campaign for Keith, 2006 election). Two, that the MSM noise machine will always hype the flows and remain silent during the ebbs.
Keep watching as each day we now begin to put out our new "quarterly rolling average" number for KO. We will sum it all up again in July. Just for fun, feel free to put down your predictions for two numbers - Keith's quarterly average rating for ALL viewers (P2+) and for demo viewers (A25-54).
Here are the Program Rankers used to prepare this post: