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Wow, it's a first for TVNewser! TVN actually decided to print some honesty about Keith Olbermann's ratings-but not before running a glowing press release straight from the MSNBC PR department first:
MSNBC Delivers Strongest Growth of Any Cable News Net in Total Day and Primetime. Countdown with Keith Olbermann Maintains Momentum, Beating CNN at 8 PM in Total Viewers and A25-54; NBC's ratings growth continued this summer, as the network delivered the strongest growth of any cable news net in August in total day (M-Sun), weekday primetime (8-11 pm) and in sales primetime (M-Sun 7pm-2am) in both total viewers and the Adult 25-54 demographic, compared to August 06. "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" continued its success for the network, finishing #2 ahead of CNN at 8pm in both A25-54 and total viewers and up an astonishing 55 percent in the A25-54 demo and 67 percent in total viewers compared to last year. Countdown with Keith Olbermann (M-F 8pm) continues to gain traction, up an amazing 67 percent in total viewers versus last year (721,000 vs. 431,000) and up 55 percent in the A25-54 demo (259,000 vs. 167,000). "Countdown" beat CNN by a comfortable 17 percent in A25-54, and also enjoyed a three percent advantage in total viewers. Both CNN and FNC saw declines in the A25-54 demo at 8 p.m.
Something, God knows what, got into TVNewser however and they later decided to take a closer look at MSNBC's ratings claims. Here is the REAL story about the "success" of Keith Olbermann:
August Ratings: The 8pm Picture Keith Olbermann's year-to-year growth may be the story at MSNBC, but Countdown was still #3 at 8pmET. Even with CNN's hodge-podge of a schedule at 8 (Paula Zahn's last days, Out in the Open, CNN Special Reports, and an airing of Larry King) Olbermann trailed CNN in total viewers and the 25-54 demo.
But but but. . . didn't TVN run that first piece claiming what a "ratings success" Keith Olbermann was? That would be because MSNBC is using the numbers that are most flattering to their ego-inflated "star" which would be the Live Plus ratings, which are the same ratings that TVN posts on a near-daily basis, not the Live numbers which clearly do NOT favor Olbermann. How do we know this? Read on as TVN scrambles to explain:
These are Nielsen LIVE numbers only, so they do not include DVR data, which Countdown generally benefits from.
Here for the record are the REAL ratings for the 8pm hour in August.
FNC (O'Reilly): 2,096,000
CNN (Various): 727,000
MSNBC (Countdown): 638,000
And in oh-so-coveted "demo"?
FNC (O'Reilly): 420,000
CNN (Various): 242,000
MSNBC (Countdown): 218,000
But the question remains, why did TVN post the initial press release from MSNBC without bothering to clarify what ratings data set that MSNBC was using in calculating their misleading ratings claims? All networks use data that is most flattering to them of course but as a website that purports to cover TV News isn't it an obligation of TVN to do a little more than just run press releases? But we have to give them credit, this may well be the first time ever that TVN has decided to look beyond the press releases and more closely examine the true ratings story regarding the 8pm hour.
By the way, interesting discussion over at Inside Cable News, who has a fine breakdown chart of the Top 25 programs in the "key demo" in the month of August which illustrates just how greatly breaking news stories (mine disaster, bridge disaster) boosted and skewered the ratings for August. Only 2 programs out of the Top 25 were regularly scheduled programs (and both were O'Reilly), the rest of the top 25 programs were all breaking news events. Did MSNBC calculate their ratings using these breaking news events? Who knows--it's not like anyone is going to actually question them, it's just easier to post their press releases. But one thing is for sure, MSNBC is clearly not the "go-to" network when breaking news happens. That honor belongs to Fox and CNN.
Keith Olbermann may well be MSNBC's choice as their "news" anchor but one thing is very certain, he's not the viewer's choice!