Former MSNBC anchor Keith Olbermann showed yesterday that the time off from television has not affected his penchant for boastful statements.
In a lunchtime discussion at the paidConent Conference, Olbermann was asked why he joined Current TV rather than form his own media company a la Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh?
“When we get the show on the air, we expect to have that show fully running and fully competitive in its field from the beginning,” said Olbermann. “I didn’t want to go into an environment in which I had to build every piece of equipment myself. What Current has done [in reaching 60 million households since its 2005 launch] is a record-setting pace for cable networks in this country. Current is an established television network with a very large footprint, and with any kind of continued growth, we will be in a position to be seen in as many homes as any other news broadcast in this country on cable. That was the reason the decision was so easy to make.”
Olbermann’s boast is based on the belief that when his program launches, former viewers will flock to Current TV if they can find the channel. If not, they will demand that it be added to their cable lineup. That’s easier said than done since Current is presently a second tier channel that normally requires a set top box.
There is no guarantee that Olbermann’s former viewers are all that loyal to him. While his replacement in the 8 p.m. slot, Lawrence O’Donnell, has lost some audience share so far, it has been minimal, and MSNBC remains firmly in second place-showing that Olbermann hasn’t been missed that much. As a matter of fact, it appears that MSNBC viewers who are looking for a liberal fix have flocked to Rachel Maddow, whose ratings surged last month after Olbermann departed.
Then there is the numbers problem. As Olbermann stated, Current TV reaches 60 million households but the major cable networks reach over 90 million households and if Keith thinks that Current can close that gap in the next few years, he is dreaming.
Olbermann may think he has found nirvana, but by going to Current TV he will discover his own inconvenient truth: he is a legend only in his own mind.
h/t The Cutline