Accuracy in Media

MSNBC took great delight in announcing that they have beaten hapless rival CNN for the second year in a row in the A25-54 primetime demographic but conveniently left out any mention of cable news champ Fox News.

  • MSNBC ranked #2 in primetime and beat CNN for the second year in a row with A25-54 and for the first time ever in total viewers topping them in M-F (P2+:873,000 vs. 641,000/A25-54: 249,000 vs. 186,000) and M-Su (P2+ 765,000 vs. 595,000/A25-54 249,000 vs. 174,000). CNN had their lowest primetime delivery ever in A25-54 and total viewers.
  • In 2010, “Morning Joe” beat CNN’s “American Morning” among total viewers for the first time ever (387,000 vs. 310,000). “Morning Joe” had the best delivery ever for MSNBC in the 6-9 a.m. time slot while CNN had their smallest audience in the time slot since 2000.
  • 2010 marks the best total viewer performance in the 6 p.m. hour ever for MSNBC, with “The Ed Show” ranked #2 in both A25-54 and total viewers for the full year. Compared to 2009, “The Ed Show” is up +8% in A25-54 and +20% in total viewers, while CNN has dropped –28% in A25-54 and –29% in total viewers. CNN had their lowest 6 p.m. delivery in A25-54 since 1999 and the lowest total viewer average since 2002. “The Ed Show” had 642,000 total viewers (vs. 543,000 for CNN) and 157,000 A25-54 (vs. 149,00 for CNN).
  • “Hardball with Chris Matthews” at 7 p.m. ranked #2 with A25-54 (172,000) and P2+ (634,000), beating CNN in the hour for the first time ever.  CNN delivered lowest A25-54 and total viewers in the hour ever (137,000 A25-54 and 462,000 P2+).
  • “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” ends 2010 with a huge lead over CNN, rating #2 for the 4th consecutive year with total viewers (1.038 million vs. 527,000) and A25-54 (269,000 vs. 149,000). With the end of “Campbell Brown” and the start of “Parker Spitzer,” CNN hit all-time lows in the hour with both adults and total viewers.
  • In 2010, “The Rachel Maddow Show” ranked #2 at 9 p.m. beating CNN’s “Larry King Live” for the full year the first time ever among A25-54 (256,000 vs. 177,000) and total viewers (954,000 vs. 676,000). 2010 was the lowest rated year ever for “Larry King Live.”
  • The combination of “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” and the “Countdown” encore at 10 p.m. ranked #2 in 2010,  beating CNN’s live editions of “Anderson Cooper 360″ among A25-54 (217,000 vs. 207,000) and P2+ (674,000 vs. 667,000). Since the premiere,  “The Last Word” has ranked #2 and topped “AC360” among total viewers and A25-54.
  • MSNBC placed #2 in Total Day (M-Su 6 a.m.-6a.m.) for the year, beating CNN for the first time ever among A25-54 (141,000 vs. 133,000). MSNBC also topped CNN for the year in Sales Day (M-Su 6 a.m-2a.m.) in A25-54 for the first time ever (146,000 vs. 143, 000).

I guess congratulations are in order to MSNBC for surpassing CNN in total audience figures for the first time ever but beating them isn’t exactly rocket science these days. CNN has been hitting ten-year lows in ratings for most of the year and fired their president in an effort to turn things around.

But the bragging would be short-lived if not non existent if MSNBC would have compared themselves to arch rival Fox News.  While MSNBC firmly trumped CNN in total audience with just under 900,000, they trail Fox with over 2 million.  If  you look at the signature shows Hardball and Countdown with Keith Olbermann their A25-54 audience is only half of what Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly attract on a regular basis.

There’s nothing wrong with a little p.r. spin as it occurs everyday but in this case leaving out Fox also leaves out the context of exactly how the cable news ratings really break down and show that while MSNBC is soundly beating CNN they are being beaten by an even wider margin by Fox News and that’s the real news.

For MSNBC ignorance is bliss.

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