The ratings are out for the October broadcast month, the first full month of the 2006-2007 TV season, and for those of you who are fretting about whether the bravery of MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann would motivate his bosses at NBC to send him packing a la Phil Donahue, you can probably rest easy. Keith’s numbers are quite literally going through the roof, and he seems to be bringing the rest of MSNBC’s primetime lineup along for the ride.
In October 2005 Olbermann’s 8pm numbers were already on the rise, but they were not necessarily the stuff of which job security is made. He was delivering 381,000 total viewers — 53,000 fewer than his 7pm lead-in, Chris Matthews’ Hardball, and 2,000 fewer than Rita Cosby which then occupied the 9pm MSNBC slot. He fared a little better among Adults 25-54, the “money” demographic advertisers crave. At 145,000 Adults 25-54, Olbermann was already # 1 at MSNBC, 8,000 ahead of “Hardball” and 10,000 ahead of “Rita Cosby.”

Relative to his CNN and FOX competition however, Olbermann was a very, very distant third in October 2005. Bill O’Reilly over at FOX was delivering 603% more total viewers and 257% more Adults 25-54. At CNN Paula Zahn was delivering 116% more total viewers and 61% more Adults 25-54.

What a difference a year makes:

Olbermann delivered 637,000 total viewers in October 2006.

  • That is an increase of 67% versus October 2005
  • Olbermann left the other MSNBC talk shows in the dust, delivering 39% more viewers than “Hardball” (457,000 viewers, +5% versus a year ago); and 52% more viewers that Joe Scarborough’s 9pm show (418,000 viewers, +9% versus Rita Cosby a year ago).
  • Olbermann is still number 3 behind FOX and CNN, but not by all that much. O’Reilly is still way ahead at 2,081,000 viewers, but that is -22% and more than half-a-million viewers versus a year ago. Paula Zahn is also -22% and beat Olberman by a mere 2,000 viewers.
  • Olbermann was delivering 10% of the total 3-network total viewer pie (FOX, MSNBC, and CNN) in October 2005. In October 2006 he is up to 19%. That represents a 111% share increase.

Olbermann delivered 233,000 Adults 25-54 (the “money” demographic) in October 2006.

  • That is an increase of 61% versus October 2005
  • Again this places Olbermann well ahead of the other MSNBC talk shows. He is delivering 34% more Adults 25-54 than “Hardball” (174,000 Adults 25-54, +5% versus a year ago); and 53% more Adults 25-54 than Joe Scarborough’s 9pm show (152,000 Adults 25-54, +13% versus Rita Cosby a year ago).
  • Again, Fox’s Bill O’Reilly still leads the time period with 470,000 Adults 25-54, but that is -9% versus a year ago, and over at CNN Paula Zahn is now in third place behind Olbermann with 217,000 Adults 25-54, -7% versus a year ago.
  • And again, Olbermann’s share of the 8pm 3-network Adult 25-54 pie is way up — from 16% in October 2005 to 25% in October 2006 — a 56% increase.

Those stodgy and conservative executives at NBC and parent company General Electric are probably wishing they had clamped a lid on Keith Olbermann some time ago. He is after all one of the very few main stream media figures who dares speak truth to power. With numbers like these though — and those numbers are still on the rise — those of us who worry about Keith can probably rest easy.

Right on Keith!!!

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