MSNBC notches ratings win over Fox News, but with an asterisk
But MSNBC circulated a press release Tuesday crowing about liberal hero Keith Olbermann's Countdown show beating his bitter rival Bill O'Reilly in a key ratings group for the first time ever. It's a bump that's consistent with a trend media reporters have outlined recently; that intense interest in the long Democratic primary has boosted interest in MSNBC and CNN among viewers who may not be watching conservative-friendly Fox News.
According to MSNBC, lefty Olbermann beat conservative hero O'Reilly by 5,000 viewers aged 25 to 54 last week (477,000 to 472,000), excluding Tuesday, when all channels were wall-to-wall on primary coverage.
But a Fox news spokesman who asked to remain nameless noted that O'Reilly's show was hosted by a substitute, Laura Ingraham, on Friday. So is it really a ratings win when the top guy isn't in the saddle for one of the four days?
According to Fox, O'Reilly scored an average 503,000 25 to 54 viewers in the three days he anchored against Olbermann, compared to 491,000 for MSNBC; Fox also says Olbermann beat Ingraham by 57,000 viewers aged 25 to 54 on Friday. The performance doesn't seem to have hurt Ingraham's status at Fox; the New York Times reported Tuesday she is expected to be one of several rotating personalities hosting the 5 p.m. hour on the newschannel starting Monday.
What it does seem to show, is Olbermann getting within spitting distance of Fox News' top dog at a time when interest in the presidential election is growing MSNBC's audience and displeasure with George W. Bush may be eroding Fox News numbers.
Wonder what will happen now that the general election race is on?
Here's MSNBC's release...
NEW YORK – June 10, 2008 – MSNBC continued its ratings surge last week, with viewers flocking out of the "No Spin Zone" and to "The Place for Politics." For the first time ever, MSNBC's "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" was the #1 show at 8 p.m., out-drawing Fox News's "O'Reilly Factor" head-to-head among Adults 25-54. This is the first time since June 2001 that MSNBC has out-rated "The O'Reilly Factor" at 8 p.m.
Excluding Tuesday's primary coverage, "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" averaged 477,000 A25-54 vs. 472,000 for the "Factor."
MSNBC also out-drew Fox News Channel for the week in primetime (June 2-8, M-F, 8-11 p.m.), averaging 496,000 Adults 25-54 vs. 449,000. This is the first time MSNBC beat FNC for the week in primetime since Feb. 25, 2008, when MSNBC telecast exclusive coverage of the Democratic candidates debate. Prior to that, the last time MSNBC beat FNC in primetime was the week of July 30, 2001.
"Hardball with Chris Matthews" also kept up its momentum, ranking #1 at 7 p.m. in the key adult demo (334,000), out-rating CNN by 5% (319,000) and FNC by 19% (280,000). The 5 p.m. broadcast of "Hardball" also beat FNC for the week (218,000 vs. 198,000).