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Archives: December 2009

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7 of the Most-Watched TV News Events of 2009

Here are seven of 2009′s most viewed moments in TV news:

President Barack Obama’s Inauguration

On January 20th, President Barack Obama was sworn in to office as the 44th President of the United States. The event was accompanied by massive coverage from the cable and broadcast networks. Nielsen reported that 37,793,008 total viewers watched the ceremony.

ABC and NBC each drew around 10 million viewers and CNN drew 7 million.
Hudson River Crash

In January, viewers tuned in for coverage of a plane crash in the Hudson river. Fox News had the most viewers of the cable networks, which together averaged nearly 5 million viewers as the story broke. That night, over 27 million viewers watched the evening news broadcasts.
Obama’s First Address to Congress

Nielsen reported that a huge 52,373,000 viewers watched President Obama’s first address to a joint session of congress back in February.

33.6 million watched on the broadcast networks (10.5M on CBS). Fox and CNN split the top spot on cable.
The Death of Michael Jackson

The cable networks combined for nearly 8.5 million total viewers during primetime the night news broke that Michael Jackson had died.21.6 million viewers tuned in to watch the broadcast networks’ Jackson (and Farrah Fawcett) specials.

Nielsen reported that 31.1 million later watched Jackson’s memorial service across 17 networks. 8.9 million watched on the cable nets.
Sen. Edward Kennedy’s Funeral

Over 5 million viewers watched Senator Edward Kennedy‘s funeral services on the cable networks in late August, with many more watching on the broadcast networks.

In the preceding days, news of his passing and the subsequent specials and memorials consumed the networks.
Two Words: Balloon Boy

It was a rollercoaster of emotions watching that balloon float through the air with the belief that a young boy was trapped inside. That sure took a turn. But before we knew it was a hoax, nearly 5 million viewers watched on Fox, CNN, and MSNBC.
Shooting at Fort Hood

On November 5th, reports spread of a shooting at Fort Hood, a story that quickly dominated news coverage. The cable networks went wall-to-wall and the broadcast networks broke into regular programming.

Between 3-7pmET, CNN, FNC, and MSNBC together averaged 4.5 million viewers. Fox lead the ratings with their coverage and Bill O’Reilly averaged 5 million viewers that evening.

A few days later, a memorial service was held. Over 3 million tuned in on the cable nets, and more watched the president’s remarks on the broadcast networks.

Crossover Week on the Morning Shows

This morning on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” FBN’s Cody Willard was on to talk about financial resolutions for 2010. The segment was anchored by ABC’s Bianna Golodryga who cut her teeth at CNBC.

Brian_12.31.jpgAnd yesterday, on the CBS “Early Show,” former NBC News “Today” show senior producer Brian Balthazar, who’s now director of programming for HGTV, was on to talk about “Fameballs,” defined by Balthazar (who does stand-up comedy on the side) as “Someone whose fame snowballs, sometimes for legitimate reasons and sometimes because the media coverage causes it to explode and the American public becomes sick of them.” ie. Jon Gosselin.

News Channels Cover FOX – Time Warner Retransmission Dispute

The cable business and news channels are ramping up their coverage today of the looming Midnight deadline between Time Warner Cable and Fox Broadcasting. At issue: the News Corp. network wants $1 per Time Warner subscriber. If an agreement isn’t reached, Fox could go dark in 13 million homes in the cities with FOX owned and operated stations. [This does not affect Fox News Channel, only FOX broadcast.] FNC has not reported on the story today, but Fox Business has been.

Correspondent Adam Shapiro reports with a decidedly News Corp. take: “The reason that FOX is asking for a dollar requested compensation is equal to what Time Warner cable pays TNT, a network with a fraction of the ratings. So, that’s what’s at stake here. News Corp. wants to get paid for programming that it delivers. TNT gets paid about a dollar per subscribers. Time Warner, by the way, has a 40% profit margin and as you know, it’s no secret, advertising revenue in television is declining and television networks like FOX are looking at new ways to generate revenue so that they can continue to bring you programs like The Simpsons and Family Guy and that kind of stuff.”

Shapiro also advised viewers to go to the KeepFoxOn.com Website which was set up by the Fox Networks Group.

HLN is also reporting the story today, with their anchor opining: “This is a lose-lose for all of us. Either those customers lose the channels, or their monthly cable bill goes up and no matter what happens probably FOX and maybe other broadcast networks are going to try this in the future too with more cable companies.” HLN is a CNN network. Time Warner Inc., the parent of CNN, spun off Time Warner Cable earlier this year.

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And this could be just the beginning of retransmission battles which will take an even more intriguing twist next year when Comcast, the nation’s largest cable operator, prepares to close on its controlling stake in NBCUniversal, and its stable of cable networks, a broadcast network and local TV stations.

10 Media Blunders

Politico’s Michael Calderone lists his top 10 media errors of 2009. Among the TV news “winners” are: CNN and the Coast Guard incident, Fox News’ tea party apologies, Terry Moran‘s tweet, ACORN and Van Jones, and Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow‘s misquotes. Any others you think should have made the list?

ABC ‘World News’ Issues Correction

Ross_12.31.jpgABC News investigative correspondent Brian Ross was the first reporter to show the alleged underwear bomber’s hiding place — his underwear. But last night, ABC “World News” had to correct some of Ross’s reporting from Tuesday night.

On “World News” Tuesday Ross was doing a Q&A with Diane Sawyer about Al Qaeda in Yemen.

Ross: “Two of the top leaders, former prisoners at Guantanamo now running the operation there. Pres. Obama has twice given directions for U.S. war planes to fire missiles in Yemen and we’re told he’s prepared to do it again.”

Sawyer: “So they were prisoners at Guantanamo, they were released?”

Ross: “They were released to Saudi Arabia, then set free after a so-called rehabilitation program.”

Last night, David Muir, subbing for Sawyer, said this:

We do have a correction to make tonight. Last night here, we said two former prisoners from Guantanamo Bay were helping run Al Qaeda’s operation in Yemen. It turns out, only one of them is. The other is believed to be in custody in Saudi Arabia.

Top 10 TVNewser Posts of 2009

Rush Limbaugh Hospitalization a Lead Story for Morning Shows

Radio host Rush Limbaugh has been taken to a hospital in Hawaii after complaining of chest pains during a vacation. Fox News and CNN, which had WH correspondent Ed Henry already in Hawaii covering the president’s vacation, reported the news last evening, just after 10pm eastern. (Henry tweeted from the hospital last night, “Could this Obama trip take any more odd turns?”)

Today, it was a lead story for the morning shows. NBC’s Chuck Todd, who is also in Hawaii covering the president, provided a remote for “Today.”

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More from FishbowlDC.

The Scoreboard: Tuesday, Dec. 29

25-54 demographic: (L +SD)

Total day: FNC: 357 | CNN: 176 | MSNBC: 115 | HLN: 122

Prime: FNC: 562 | CNN: 188 | MSNBC: 215 | HLN: 198

  5p: 6p: 7p: 8p: 9p: 10p: 11p:
FNC Beck: Baier: Shep: O’Reilly: Hannity: Greta: O’Reilly:
  457 489 421 730 509 442 381
CNN Blitzer: Blitzer: Tonight: Brown: King: Cooper: Cooper:
  237 177 197 154 244 167 179
MSNBC Matthews: Edshow: Matthews: Olbermann: Maddow: Olbermann: Maddow:
  72 107 122 290 215 139 240
HLN Prime: Prime: Issues: Grace: Behar: Grace: Showbiz:
  82 98 162 272 195 145 108


Data by Nielsen Media Research. Live and same day (DVR) data.

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10 Year Chart of Cable News Ratings: Primetime

Here’s the second part of our look back at cable news ratings over the last decade. We’ve charted the total day numbers, and here are the numbers for primetime.

Again, Fox News’ rise is most noticeable, as is the bump the election gave CNN and MSNBC.

The charts track each network’s Nielsen primetime ratings average for each of the last 10 years, from Dec. 27, 1999 – Dec. 23, 2009. After the jump, the A25-54 demo. (Click for larger versions).

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