Accuracy in Media

It has only been a week since Keith Olbermann left MSNBC but early indications are that the network has taken a ratings hit.

In Olbermann’s last week on the air his show averaged 1.17 million viewers per night with 289,000 coming in the key A25-54 demographic.  While this trailed The O’Reilly Factor by a large margin Olbermann soundly beat CNN’s struggling Parker Spitzer which averaged 478,000 viewers and 106,000 in the A25-54 demographic during the same time frame.

In the week after MSNBC replaced Olbermann’s Countdown program with The Last Word from Lawrence O’Donnell there has been some audience deterioration that should cause the network some concern.

O’Donnell attracted  1.5 million viewers on his first night in the 8 p.m. slot against Parker Spitzer but if you factor out that inflated audience and focus on the other two nights of the week that wasn’t influenced by the programming change or the SOTU speech for which information is available a very different picture emerges.

While O’Donnell is averaging 1.05 million viewers per night so far  that is still down 10% from Olbermann’s numbers and even more important is the 27% drop in the A25-54 demographic to just 210,000 viewers.  On the other hand Parker Spitzer’s overall audience figures went up 8% to an average of 521,000 per night while the A25-54 demographic soared a whopping 68%  t0 178,000 viewers placing the show within reach of catching and surpassing O’Donnell.

Even with this improvement CNN is still mired in third place and Parker Spitzer is no threat to beat O’Donnell’s total audience numbers but MSNBC should be concerned that they have lost a huge swath of younger viewers that advertisers crave and that if this continues it will affect their bottom line.

The future is a little brighter for Parker Spitzer but CNN’s best move would be to replace the show with  something more interesting and dynamic to take advantage of the weakness in MSNBC’s schedule with Olbermann’s departure.

CNN has been given a golden opportunity. The only question now is will they take advantage of it?

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