Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The All-Spin Olbermann Zone

I will admit I was a bit perplexed when I first read that loudmouth Keith Olbermann won the 25-54 demographic last week.

Phil Griffin knew it would happen, he just didn't think it would happen this quickly. On Friday night, MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann was the top-rated cable news show in the 25-54 demo. That means Olbermann beat his cable rival, FNC's The O'Reilly Factor and its host Bill O'Reilly. That's a first...

O'Reilly and all the FNC primetime programs still dominate the total viewer numbers.

This seemed like a strange thing to say? Are there really that many geezers and toddlers watching FNC? How can Olbermann win the biggest demographic but not win total viewers?

Then I went to Olbermann Watch where it all became clear.
That certainly sounds impressive, only it's not true. You see, TVNewser and MSNBC are using "Live Plus" ratings meaning the count includes both those who watched the program live as it aired and those who recorded it on a DVR or TIVO device. Of course there is no proof whatsoever that anyone actually bothers to go back and watch what they recorded on a DVR or TIVO. I know I've got movies sitting on my TIVO that I recorded over a year ago. But here's the difference those Live Plus Numbers can make and the misleading impressions they can lead to, impressions that the MSNBC PR machine which includes their willing flack, TVNewser don't bother to explain:

On Friday, September 7th, using the Live Nielsen data (available at Inside Cable News), Bill O'Reilly scored 1,861,000 total viewers; Olbermann? 702,000. That means that in all age groups, O'Reilly had a total of 1,159,000 more viewers than Olbermann did. Using "Live Plus", O'Reilly scored 1,885,000 total viewers; Olbermann? 856,000. A difference of 1,029,000. So in what bizarro world do you have a million more viewers, on average, than your nearest competitor and still be considered a loser? Oh yeah, right. The MSNBC PR department and TV Newser.

So let's go look at those coveted demos too shall we? On Friday night, September 7th, using the Live data, The Factor had 311,000 viewers in the 25-54 demo. Olbermann? 269,000. Victory? It belonged to Bill O'Reilly. But using those "Live Plus"? Bill had 324,000; Olbermann had 365,000. Keep in mind there is absolutely no proof whatsoever anyone who recorded Olbermann's opinion-fest actually bothered to watch the show later, they just recorded it.

Before viewing Olbermann Watch, I didn't realize that TVNewsers' Chris used to work for MSNBC. Seems to me if a guy's gonna flack for someone, he should disclose his connections to that entity.

I can't even remember the number of shows we've TiVO'd and never, ever watched. Counting TiVO numbers in with live viewers is a bit disingenuous if you ask me.

Inside Cable News points out that this was one night's numbers. How's Keith doing since then?
The O’Reilly Factor — 2,308,000 viewers/510,000 in 25-54 demo
Countdown with Keith Olbermann — 876, 000 viewers/388,000 in 25-54 demo

That means Bill had nearly three times Keith's numbers. But don't expect a PR release from TVNewsers on that.

And speaking of hacks--er, flacks.