And The Winner Is … Keith Olbermann’s Countdown

It has been a long campaign, but the tally is finally in. Last week Keith Olbermann’s Countdown beat the O’Reilly Factor every day in the key 25-54 audience demographic. Here is the five day average for the primetime cable news programs:

Program Viewers
Countdown 1180
Rachel Maddow 1063
O’Reilly Factor 1020
Hannity & Not Hannity 1011
Larry King 631
Campbell Brown 533

I have been reporting on the performance of the cable news programs for almost three years. Most of that time I have made the case that Fox News is an old world dinosaur that is consistently underperforming the competition. Although it was also the number one news network, it was either losing viewers or growing slower than CNN and MSNBC. This year alone saw year-over-year gains of 70% for MSNBC, 66% for CNN, but only 36% for Fox. The trends all pointed to an eventual takedown which I predicted would occur before the end of this year.

Well, it’s November, and my prediction has been validated. There have been multiple occasions in the past few months where MSNBC beat Fox intermittently. The Foxbots all clung to the belief that these were irrelevant blips that would amount to nothing. But now Countdown took an entire week of regular programming (meaning there were no guest hosts or preemptions). This is as clear a signal as there can be that the landscape is shifting.

In addition to Olbermann’s success, the new Rachel Maddow show burst out of the gate to great acclaim and ratings. She beat Fox’s Hannity & Not Hannity 3 out of 5 nights, and took the whole week prize as well. For the week, the one-two punch of Olbermann and Maddow delivered a nightly win to MSNBC on 3 out of 5 nights, and a tie for the full week in primetime.

As always, time will tell if these numbers endure. But they affirm the audience migration away from Fox News. Plus Fox has a much smaller percentage of viewers in the 25-54 demo (27%) than either CNN (38%) or MSNBC (42%). This means that advertisers will drift away from Fox’s older skewing audience. But it also means that the next generation of news consumers is forming their bond now with with other networks, particularly MSNBC.


11 thoughts on “And The Winner Is … Keith Olbermann’s Countdown

  1. Shouldn’t Rachel come before Billo in your table? Something looks a bit out of whack there.

  2. Im very happy for Keith and Rachel.I will caution this, When the Obama administation hits a tough time like all administrations do MSNBC better call it the way it is and not be a water carrier,Part of the reason for FOX decline is the asinine stuff they came up with to defend the Bush administration and other Republicans and also the stuff they tried to slime Obama with.But I believe if or when the time comes Keith and Rachel won’t dissapoint

    • I couldn’t agree more.

      Keith already has a track record criticizing Obama for his vote on warrantless wiretapping.


    • First of all, stop yelling!

      If you read the article above you should have noticed that it is referencing “last week,” that is, the week prior to it being written. That would be the week of October 27-31. Check whatever source you like, Countdown was first in the 25-54 demo all of that week.

      Just because you don’t pay attention, doesn’t change reality. ;-)

  4. Fox news is so annoying. Full of lies and fear. There is no balance. No creativity. Younger viewers are over Fox.

  5. O’Reilly must have been out that week. You liberals need to get a life, get an education and get a clue. FOX NEWS is the only news to watch, Keith O is a total whack job, thank GOD there is Fox where I can learn what’s going on in the world fair and balanced. What are you liberals so afraid of, hmm let me think, oh yeah THE TRUTH! It shall set you free……..

    • You are such a typical Fox viewer. You don’t like the facts so you speculate about a different reality. If you think O’Reilly was out that week, why don’t you actually find out before you dismiss these numbers?

      But no…..As a good Foxbot you just make stupid assumptions and fly off the handle. O’Reilly WAS on the air the whole week. Sorry. He just got beat. The truth hurts, doesn’t it?

  6. Mark,
    I’m sorry to break the news to you, but as a statistician you are quite weak. Over time statistics matter, not one week and forget the rest. I would point you to the Nielsen ratings and plot them over time for us. Growth alone is useless if your not looking at who has the most viewers to start with.

    You have certainly demonstrated how silly your argument is by your responses and your ongoing analysis.

    I would ponder that you feel quite helpless with the fact that FOX consistently beats your favorites and that you simply an underpaid blogger who is unwilling to even post his last name to his posts.

    Good luck to you… Mark.

    • Steve, your comprehension skills need work.

      Not only am I not relying on one week’s data, I repeatedly said that time is a factor and that the long-term must be watched. Plus I cited that MSNBC’s growth over a full year is twice that of Fox News. The reason reference I made to a single week was to point out the ratings victories that took place the week this post was written.

      And if you think that growth is “useless” you are pretty naive. A couple of years ago, Fox News had an apparently insurmountable lead – as much as three times the competition. Now, MSNBC is challenging them in second place and frequently beats them. That was unheard of two years ago. And it occurs because MSNBC had much stronger growth. That’s how they caught up.

      And, yes…I am underpaid.

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