The news this week about the battle for cable news is all about the runner-up slot.
CNN, long languishing as number 3, is making moves on MSNBC. Bill Carter of the New York Times surmises that the loss of Keith Olbermann, plus CNN’s shifting of Anderson Cooper from 10PM to 8PM, is proving to be the prime-time impetus for CNN’s move out of the cellar.
Carter’s analysis of the numbers of the all-important 25-54 demographic:
For the month, CNN averaged 257,000 viewers in prime time in the category that counts most to the networks — viewers between the ages of 25 and 54 — because that is where the advertising money goes for news programming. MSNBC was just barely ahead with 269,000 viewers. (Neither approached the leader, Fox News, with 526,000).
Both CNN and MSNBC had one especially strong night because of the Republican presidential debates. With those excluded, however, CNN beat MSNBC, 219,000 to 207,000. A year ago, when Mr. Olbermann still occupied the 8 p.m. hour, MSNBC edged CNN by 83,000 viewers, with 256,000 viewers for MSNBC to 173,000 for CNN.
CNN and MSNBC cumulatively still fail to reach the audience figures enjoyed by Fox News.
You can track daily ratings figures at TV Newser.