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On September 8th here at Olbermannwatch, we documented how the "new" TVNewser was a lot like the old TVNewer, but even worse and less reputable if that was humanly possible. Chris continues in the great tradition of the now departed Brian Setzer in pimping MSNBC in general and Keith Olbermann in particular every chance he gets. Today's edition has this breathless PR release from MSNBC:
Olbermann's Win A Surprise Even Inside MSNBC: Phil Griffin knew it would happen, he just didn't think it would happen this quickly. On Friday night, MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann was the top-rated cable news show in the 25-54 demo. That means Olbermann beat his cable rival, FNC's The O'Reilly Factor and its host Bill O'Reilly. That's a first. O'Reilly and all the FNC primetime programs still dominate the total viewer numbers. So why is the demo win such a big deal? "It's everything, the demo is everything. It's where we make our money," said Griffin. And the Olbermann bump helps. "For years MSNBC struggled to find someone to be the tent pole and lead the way," Griffin says. "In 11+ years, I don't think there has been a better moment."Griffin should know, he helped start MSNBC and watched as FNC shot past CNN to #1 where it remains today. And he says Bill O'Reilly rightly gets a lot of the credit. "O'Reilly did it for Fox in 1999, and helped take it to where it is today." But, he adds, "It's clear now, it's a two-person race."
There's just so much wrong with this post that we're going to break it down piece-by-piece for you.
UPDATED with feedback from Inside Cable News!
Phil Griffin knew it would happen, he just didn't think it would happen this quickly. "The real insight I had was over the summer," said Griffin, the NBC News senior VP who manages the Today show as well as MSNBC. Griffin tells TVNewser, Olbermann "maintained his core audience, so when the mass viewers came back after Labor Day...it's just surprising it happened so quickly."
Phil Griffin for those of you who don't know is an old buddy of Olbermann's. The pair worked together at CNN during Olbermann's first stint there. He's also the "genius" who was responsible for firing Don Imus. Hey Phil, ratings guru, programming genius--how's that working out for you over there at MSNBC? Yeah that "Morning Joe" is really bringing in the viewers isn't it?
Now let's go to this next bit of fiction shall we?
On Friday night, MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann was the top-rated cable news show in the 25-54 demo. That means Olbermann beat his cable rival, FNC's The O'Reilly Factor and its host Bill O'Reilly. That's a first.That certainly sounds impressive, only it's not true. You see, TVNewser and MSNBC are using "Live Plus" ratings meaning the count includes both those who watched the program live as it aired and those who recorded it on a DVR or TIVO device. Of course there is no proof whatsoever that anyone actually bothers to go back and watch what they recorded on a DVR or TIVO. I know I've got movies sitting on my TIVO that I recorded over a year ago. But here's the difference those Live Plus Numbers can make and the misleading impressions they can lead to, impressions that the MSNBC PR machine which includes their willing flack, TVNewser don't bother to explain:
On Friday, September 7th, using the Live Nielsen data (available at Inside Cable News), Bill O'Reilly scored 1,861,000 total viewers; Olbermann? 702,000. That means that in all age groups, O'Reilly had a total of 1,159,000 more viewers than Olbermann did. Using "Live Plus", O'Reilly scored 1,885,000 total viewers; Olbermann? 856,000. A difference of 1,029,000. So in what bizarro world do you have a million more viewers, on average, than your nearest competitor and still be considered a loser? Oh yeah, right. The MSNBC PR department and TV Newser.
So let's go look at those coveted demos too shall we? On Friday night, September 7th, using the Live data, The Factor had 311,000 viewers in the 25-54 demo. Olbermann? 269,000. Victory? It belonged to Bill O'Reilly. But using those "Live Plus"? Bill had 324,000; Olbermann had 365,000. Keep in mind there is absolutely no proof whatsoever anyone who recorded Olbermann's opinion-fest actually bothered to watch the show later, they just recorded it.
Now we don't fault MSNBC for trying to use the best possible set of numbers to spin Olbermann's program as a "hit". That's why Public Relations departments exist after all. And we all know that Olbermann has one huge, King-Kong Style ego. But TVNewser really should rebrand himself as MSNBC/NBC/CNBC Newser if he's going to continue to post these articles without any analysis. He's even being called out for his pitiful efforts by other television industry websites for lifting items without attribution and for buying into such PR releases without providing the needed and necessary analysis that real journalists use. But perhaps Chris doesn't really understand what true journalism is. After all, his last job was at, you guessed it, MSNBC. Which is rather suprising that he chose to post the following comment on his blog from the Fox PR flack:
When asked to comment for this story, Fox News spokesperson Irena Briganti wrote, "Does Mediabistro know you're on two payrolls â€” MSNBC's and theirs?(of course, I haven't been on MSNBC's payroll since I left the company in January.)"
Inside Cable News continues to do a fine job questioning TVN on the "facts": This is a bit overdramatic. Can we please have some perspective here? It was one win in the Demo (based on Live+SD ratings and not Live ratingsâ€¦more on that later in another post). Just one win. But the positive PR eminating out of Secaucus is disproportionately high... . at the same time this is hardly the time to be doing cartwheels and cracking open the champagne either. Not over one dayâ€™s ratings to be sure. Iâ€™ve said it before and Iâ€™ll say it again. For a trend you need long term data.