Apparently when Keith Olbermann was fired he took most of the viewers with him as Current TV’s ratings for 8 PM have dropped by more than 66% without Countdown.
TVNewser reported that the Elliot Spitzer’s debut drew only 47,000 viewers compared to Olbermann’s March average of 152,000. Obermann averaged almost as many viewers in the 25-54 demo (42,000) as Spitzer did overall. Keith Olbermann has had a stormy year plus, but right now it looks like Current is the big loser here.
Unlike when Olbermann left MSNBC last year, Current doesn’t have the depth of talent required to replace Countdown. Without Olbermann, MSNBC has been able to soldier on because of the talent that the Countdown host helped build at the network. After experimenting with The Last Word at 8 PM, MSNBC seems to have figured it out and is having success with The Ed Show. Because of the threat posed by Olbermann and Current, MSNBC locked up much of their future talent like Chris Hayes. (Ironically, in the long run Keith Olbermann’s time at Current may end up strengthening MSNBC more than Al Gore’s network).
It appears that Keith Olbermann was a big part of the reason that people were watching Current. Most of the viewers that Olbermann brought in haven’t stuck with them since he left, which really makes one question what Current was thinking in the first place. If they were going to use Olbermann as a marquee star to boost the whole network, they really needed to stick to that plan and keep the Countdown host happy, no matter how difficult that may be.
Current lost any momentum that they may have built with Olbermann. They also lost their one big selling point to carriers and providers as to why they should be in more homes. They spent a whole lot of money, and they are pretty much right back where they started from. As for Olbermann, he will land somewhere. I still contend that if CNN would ever stop selling out to the right, Countdown could bring them the ratings that they so desperately desire.
Laughably CNN considers Olbermann too far to the left to be hired, but they will happy hire tea party hate mongers like Erick Erickson and Dana Loesh. I wonder how much further into oblivion their prime time lineup will have to sink until TeaNN realizes that they are in the midst of a total disaster?
If he wants to do Countdown, someone will hire Keith Olbermann.
It looks like Current TV is going back to being the little progressive network with great programming that no one knows about, but Al Gore and Joel Hyatt are right. There is a market out there for Current TV, but before they make another big hire, they had better be certain that they are getting the right person and that they can deliver what they promise.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA.Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association