According to the NBC press release on the 2009 first quarter ratings, “The Rachel Maddow Show again out-rated CNN’s “Larry King Live” among A25-54 in March (340,000 vs. 293,000), and finished within 50,000 total viewers (1,133,000 vs. 1,177,000).”The Rachel Maddow Show” was up 98 percent in total viewers compared to March 2008 (1,133,000 vs. 573,000) and up 70 percent in A25-54 (340,000 vs. 200,000). It isn’t as if Larry King is losing viewers. King’s ratings are up 20%, and he is up 9% in total viewers. The problem would seem to be that King’s ratings are relatively flat.
The scary thing for CNN when it comes to Larry King is that on some nights he is getting beaten by Maddow in total viewers. Last Thursday, Maddow outdrew King 1.2 million to 1.1 million. However, Maddow’s ratings were still about half of Sean Hannity’s over at Fox News. On Friday, Maddow and King ran about even with King winning 875,000-844,000 but on Monday Maddow beat King 974,000-918,000. As you can see, Maddow isn’t just competitive with King, she is beating him. I think these numbers say more about the popularity of Maddow’s show, which on some nights is better than Keith Olbermann’s Countdown, than any decline for Larry King.
The problem for CNN is that before the rise of Fox News, King was a cable ratings monster, and THE place for newsmakers to go. Over time though, King’s show has become the home of criminal mysteries, and entertainment conversation. For viewers who want political talk, either FNC or MSNBC is the place to go. It is really is only a matter of time until Maddow starts beating King on a nightly basis, and with CNN’s other prime time struggles, I do wonder how much longer they can stick with King. To me, King’s slide is another symptom of CNN’s inability to keep up with the times.