Friday, February 16, 2007

Olbermann scores big four year deal with MSNBC

Fans of MSNBC's "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" will be elated to know that one of the channel's biggest names has signed a new four year contract, with the promise of more money and wider exposure.

According to terms of the deal, Olbermann will also contribute occasional essays to "NBC Nightly News" and there will be two prime-time "Countdown" specials a year on NBC, a division of NBC Universal. And no, the "Nightly News" contributions will not be as spicy as his MSNBC commentaries. Rather, they will be non-political.

Olbermann has also been named managing editor of Countdown, which has been the fastest-growing show at MSNBC. The show, which runs in the highly competitive 8PM time slot, averaged 655,000 total viewers in the fourth quarter of 2006, an increase of 58 percent year-over-year. Olbermann also upped his share of the core 25-54 demo, averaging 250,000, an increase of 64 percent.

Countdown’s more recent numbers were even stronger. The show closed out January 2007 with an average 706,000 total viewers, a jump of 82 percent versus a year ago, according to Nielsen Media Research data. In the news demo, Countdown grew 83 percent, averaging 272,000 adults 25-54.

Sure, ratings still pale in comparison to Olbermann's main adversary, Bill O'Reilly (who, to this day, forbids the mention of Olbermann's name on his TV or radio show). But "Countdown" often beats Paula Zahn on CNN in the timeslot, outdrawing the show by approximately 100,000 viewers. And while O'Reilly has been losing viewers over the past year, Olbermann has been gaining strongly.

The AP referred to Olbermann as 'a liberal hero', since his ratings have soared since his widely popular series of 'Special Commentaries," which often blast President Bush, debuted late last summer.

Dollar amounts were not disclosed. Olbermann was said to have been agitating for "Anderson Cooper money", demanding an estimated $4 million per year, up from an estimated $1 million salary under his previous contract.


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