Wednesday, November 01, 2006

MSNBC rides Olbermann to double-digit viewer gains

Letting Keith Olbermann off his leash seems to have paid off for MSNBC.

Things are definitely looking up in Seacaucus, NJ, as the cable news channel registered double-digit gains in viewers and adults 25-54 for October while Fox News Channel led all news networks for the 250th straight week, albeit with falling numbers.

Leading the charge was "Countdown With Keith Olbermann," which jumped 67% in viewership and 61% in the adults 25-54 demographic compared with October 2005. "Countdown" averaged 637,000 viewers (including 233,000 in the demo) for the month, according to data released Tuesday by Nielsen Media Research. It's nowhere near "The O'Reilly Factor" (which led all of cable with 2.1 million viewers) but it beat CNN's "Paula Zahn Now" in the demo and narrowly missed tying it in viewership.

"Keith Olbermann is the right person at the right time, and doing it in the right way," MSNBC general manager Dan Abrams said.

MSNBC was up in viewers total day and primetime as well as in the demo in both total day and primetime. "Scarborough Country" remained behind Fox News Channel's "Hannity & Colmes" and CNN's "Larry King Live," but was up 13% in the demo. The 7 p.m. edition of "Hardball" was up 27% in adults 25-54 and up 5% in viewers. MSNBC's "Imus in the Morning" simulcast gained some ground on "American Morning," averaging 324,000 viewers last month compared with 425,000 for "American Morning."

MSNBC is in the best competitive position in total day since April 2003 in the opening weeks of the war in Iraq. Abrams said the strength was almost completely across the board -- praising Joe Scarborough, Chris Matthews and Don Imus as well as Olbermann -- but he said he was also cautious.

"This is a really good sign for MSNBC on the whole. I think that we've found a voice to some degree," Abrams said. "We still have a ways to go. One month does not make ratings success, but this is certainly the right direction."

Read more of this article at the Hollywood Reporter. You can see specific demographic breakdowns and hard numbers at Media Bistro.


Anonymous said...

It's too bad that the talk radio industry is not a open as the tv industry when it comes to revealing ratings information. I think it is interesting that we can track the performance of shows on CNN, Fox, and MSNBC but have to rely on the 12+ ratings crumbs that Arbitron puts out on a monthly basis.

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