Tuesday, October 27, 2009

News from the stairclimber...

Things that caught my eye while I was doing cardio:
  • Lithium batteries (think laptops, cell phones, etc.) are causing more and more fires on airplanes. Given the danger, I can imagine them being the next thing that some terrorist exploits as an improvised explosive device. (Oddly enough, the government's "Safe Travel" website still highlights a change in the air travel rules regarding lithium batteries that went into effect almost two years ago!)
  • I knew that with ten gazillion channels on cable that individual shows weren't receiving nearly as many viewers as they used to... but these numbers for the cable news programs blew my mind:
    [Fox News'] 7p.m. show, anchored by Shepard Smith, regarded as a nonideological program, dwarfs every CNN show in prime time.

    In October, Mr. Smith averaged 465,000 viewers among the 25- to 54-year-old audience that news sells to advertisers. Lou Dobbs on CNN was fourth in the hour, with 162,000, edged by Ms. [Jane] Velez-Mitchell on HLN with 166,000. MSNBC’s Chris Matthews and “Hardball” was second with 179,000 viewers.

    At 10 p.m., Mr. [Anderson] Cooper had 211,000 viewers, to 223,000 for Mr. [Keith] Olbermann’s repeat. Ms. [Greta] Van Susteren had 538,000 viewers, and Ms. Grace averaged 222,000.

    For the month, CNN averaged 202,000 viewers, ages 25 to 54. That was far behind the dominant leader, Fox, which averaged 689,000. But it also trailed MSNBC which had 250,000 viewers in that group and HLN, which had 221,000 viewers.

    A few hundreds of thousands of viewers in a country of roughly 300 million!!!
  • This New York Times article on Pakistan makes me feel "realpolitiky" all over. Sometimes it's hard to hold onto the notion that there's any common ground left in the world... (and sometimes it sadly feels that way at home, too).
  • Finally, David Brooks worries about the Obama administration overreaching in an attempt to engineer solutions to the nation's problems, with capping executive pay as one example:
    Furthermore, when extending federal authority, the Obama folks never seem to ask how Republicans will use this power when they regain the White House. The Democrats trust themselves to set private-sector salaries and use extralegal means to go after malefactors, but would they trust a future Dick Cheney?

    I hope they know what they’re doing. Because when a future Cheney comes into office, I’m pretty sure he’ll be coming after columnists’ salaries first.

    At least he got in a Dick Cheney dig.

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Blogger TomS said...

A few thoughts on cable news demographics:

I've read lots of opinions regarding who watches cable news and why. Most of them offer contradictory data.

It's reasonable to expect that older viewers with a conservative outlook would cluster around FoxNews. Younger viewers (25-30 years of age?) would seem to watch less TV news news in favor of web-based news, which is why the 25-55 demographic appears misleadingly large.

Education is also a factor (see below) as is the type of programming....ratings go up with sensational content.

Although it's the new reality, I think it's dangerous to measure news sources by ratings...remember the movie "Network?" It was considered over-the-top in 1976...now almost all of it has come true.

For an interesting look at cable news demographics, the Pew Research site (http://people-press.org/report/?pageid=566) offers a rather clear-headed analysis:

"....CNN, the nation's dominant cable news network, has seen its audience diminish since the early 1990s. While viewership spikes with big news events, the 23% who now say they watch the network regularly is significantly lower than the high of 35% measured in May 1993.

Unlike the nightly network news audience, CNN's core audience is predominantly male, well-educated and affluent. Three-in-ten college graduates watch CNN regularly, compared to 20% of those without a college degree. Similarly, 33% of Americans with an annual family income over $75,000 are regular viewers, compared to 20% of those who make less than $50,000 a year.

The public now has several choices for round-the-clock cable news, and the survey indicates that many Americans are watching the newer cable news outlets. Nearly three-in-ten Americans (28%) watch at least one of three alternative cable news networks regularly: 12% watch the business-oriented CNBC; 8% watch MSNBC, the Microsoft-NBC collaboration. In addition, 17% of survey respondents reported watching the FOX News Channel regularly. National ratings and subscription statistics suggest that this figure is exaggerated, perhaps because respondents confuse FOX News Channel with other FOX television offerings.(1)

Furthermore, there is considerable overlap among the audiences of the various cable news networks. Regular CNBC and MSNBC viewers are more likely than average Americans to be regular CNN viewers (51% vs. 23%). Viewers of MSNBC are better than four times more likely than average to watch CNBC and similarly, viewers of CNBC are four times more likely than average to watch MSNBC.

CNBC's audience is older, while MSNBC appeals equally to those over and under age 50. Interestingly, MSNBC, which is linked to a fully interactive Internet site, is no more popular among online users than among those who do not use a computer. "

5:40 PM  

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