Monday night marked the return of Keith Olbermann to television. His new program on Current TV was closely modeled on the old MSNBC version. What everybody has been waiting to find out is whether or not his previous audience would find him farther up the dial.
Well, they did. The new Countdown pulled in 179,000 viewers in the key 25-54 demographic. Of course that is not as much as he was drawing at MSNBC, but Current is in only about two-thirds the number of homes (60 million vs. 95 million). Nevertheless, Olbermann drew in excess of two-thirds of his prior viewers. And he handily beat CNN’s “In the Arena” with Eliot Spitzer (89,000).
More importantly, Olbermann increased Current’s average audience for the time period by 600%. That’s significant because the move to Current has always recognized the need to build the network’s audience and distribution. It is interesting to note that when Olbermann began on MSNBC they were in roughly the same number of homes as Current is in now. Olbermann was a key factor in putting MSNBC on the map, and Current is hoping that he will do the same for them.
It’s important, however, to keep these numbers in perspective. They represent a single day of programming – the premiere day. That could mean that subsequent days may fall off. Or it could mean that fans who haven’t yet found the homestead may do so and the numbers will rise. The only numbers that will have any real meaning are those released after the first year so that a longer-term trend can be observed. And in that time Current promises other schedule changes that will have an impact on future performance.
Today Olbermann and his fans can enjoy this morsel, but the main course has not yet been served. So be patient and stay hungry.