The Race Tightens – For Cable News That Is

The election season has been a boon to the cable TV biz. All three of the news networks have enjoyed higher ratings. But the distribution of the audience expansion has not been exactly equal.

Fox News, the long-time leader, retains its position and moves up from fourth to second. CNN has a respectable showing by bumping up four steps from ninth to fifth. But MSNBC pulls off the master stroke by leaping from twenty-third to ninth, marking its first appearance in the top ten.

Much of the strong performance of MSNBC has to be credited to their powerhouse prime time lineup grounded by Keith Olbermann’s Countdown. But the real difference was made by the launch of Rachel Maddow’s new program, which has burst onto the air to great acclaim and audience appreciation. Her program seems to have revitalized the whole prime time schedule. As a result MSNBC is more frequently having nights like last night where the three hour block from 7:00pm to 10:00pm was number one, beating both CNN and Fox.

It is because of performance like this that Bill O’Reilly is whining about the Nielsen ratings being fixed. He just can’t bring himself to accept that more people are tuning him out and Olbermann in. To O’Reilly, any evidence that he is not the popular icon he imagines himself to be, must have been forged by his enemies who conspire against him from their underground lairs. As for Maddow knocking out both Larry King and Hannity and Colmes, after just a few weeks on the air, there is little precedent for such instant success.

The writing is on the wall. With the three news networks all bunched much closer together, Fox News is becoming ever more hysterical as their agenda is being rejected by America. So they try harder to push ridiculous fabrications, but the result is they make themselves look even sillier and they lose more viewers. In the past few months they’ve gone from calling Barack Obama a Muslim to branding him a Socialist. Sometime between now and election day, look for Fox to reveal that Obama and the Boston Strangler were never photographed together. Hmmm…Coincidence?


3 thoughts on “The Race Tightens – For Cable News That Is

  1. Im so glad FOX is no longer getting away all the BS they have spewed over the years.If there is going to be a Obama presidency (Which is looking more and more likely) what will be interesting to see is how Olbermann will do Countdown will he be a water carrier like comedian Rush Limbaugh is for the right and always defend Obama or will he be critical if it is called for?I don’t ask the same question of FOX because we already know the answer to that. IT will be interesting times indeed

  2. Way back in the stone age when I took a graduate marketing class we did a case study on Sears. Not to bore you with an old homework assignment but the point here is Sears is a classic example of the failed policies of being middle of the road. Regarding goods, people will pay more for quality at Norstrom’s or go bottom dollar at a discounter at Wal*Mart.

    I’ll stick my neck out and extend this lesson to the media. People don’t want middle of the road despite all the grousing over biased news coverage. The grousing isn’t about bias but bias going the ‘wrong’ way.

    Despite the conservative meme the networks are out-of-control liberal, they generally did a fair job at middle of the road journalism. However, the folks who crow the loudest against bias, conservatives, ran to the most biased ‘news’ sources available in conservative talk radio.

    Enter Fox News. They realize extreme bias sells big. Unfortunately, MSNBC is learning the same lesson and is slowly crawling towards becoming a left-wing version of Fox News’ successful propaganda factory.

    Liberals looking for the same flattering reflection in the ideological mirror conservative Fox News viewers get will cheer. Unfortunately, it leaves the rest of us out in the cold.

    CNN’s Headline News which many years ago was a haven for me has copied too much of Fox’s junk news format for those with severe cases of attention deficit syndrome and those who love real police dramas and other tabloid trash. I fear parent CNN will shrink to oblivion running a largely middle of the road strategy.

    If it wasn’t for NPR, some programming like BBC World Service on XM satellite radio (which I may be forced to renew), and getting AP and Reuters news releases straight off the internet, I’m not sure where I’d get quality news programming.

    The big 3 networks slashed newsrooms as being unprofitable. Cables news is going down the sewer. I’ll admit to being a bit depressed and cynical about Americans getting access to the quality news they need to made the decisions that make this democracy function.

    • Much of what you say is true (except for the part about networks being “out-of-control liberal”). Some of the reason is because of the way the news cycle has evolved. TV has limited shelf space (only so many hours in the day), so they feel they have to get the most bang for the buck. It wasn’t always this way. Networks use to regard news as a loss leader, now it is a profit center.

      The good news is that the Internet has no such limitations. It will not be too long before most people get their news predominately online. There is much more neutral info there. However, it won’t stop people from choosing news sites that are slanted to their own views.

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