It’s a common phenomenon: A new show premieres with great fanfare and reaps benefits in the ratings as the curious multitudes tune in to see what all the commotion is about.
Then, after a week or so, viewership falls back to Earth. This is what Keith Olbermann’s new “Countdown” show on Current TV is experiencing. In his show’s second week – June 27-July 1 – he lost more than a quarter of his audience, 28.5 percent, from Week One, according to a story on Deadline.com. The Week Two nightly average was 253,000 viewers, Deadline said, noting that the figure includes those who watched the show at its regular airing at 8/7c or watched it later that evening via DVR (it didn’t say whether it included those who watched the show in its many re-airings on Current).
There are a couple of ways of looking at this:
Keith doesn’t have the drawing power he used to have on MSNBC: On the face of it, this is true: Last December, when we did a story on November’s cable news ratings, Keith was averaging more than 1.1 million every weeknight on MSNBC. So, from that standpoint, this quarter-million tally is quite a comedown for him. However, you can’t blame it all on him: He’s trying to establish a beachhead for news/talk on a relatively obscure cable channel that has no history with this kind of programming. The fact that he attracted so many to his show on Current is nothing short of miraculous. Which brings us to our next point . . .
Compared to what Current used to draw in the time period, hiring Keith was like striking gold: Do you remember how many viewers on average Current was attracting at 8 p.m. before Keith came along? We reported it in one of our stories about his new show a few weeks ago: 15,000. In television, that number is so insignificant to advertisers that it may as well be zero. How big an impact has Keith made already on Current? You do the math.
Meanwhile, MSNBC hardly seems to be suffering without Olbermann, even if he was once the highest-rated personality on the network. At least, that’s what several stories rounded up by The Huffington Post here are saying based on the numbers for the second quarter of this year, which ended in June. They say MSNBC is up 3 percent in viewership vs. the same three months a year earlier, when they still had Keith.