Running the Numbers

I’m still thinking about CNN’s self-congratulatory ad trumpeting a New Day victory (which in CNN-speak means finishing second while Morning Joe came in third). I’m not going to rehash the issues regarding how the ad was publicized; instead, I’ll let the numbers do the talking.

Any student of The Cable Game has to keep an eye on TV by the Numbers, where every weekday they publish detailed ratings of the cable news wars–including the morning shows. Taking all the available numbers for this week and averaging them out, here are the standings for the Big Three channels’ morning shows in the key 25-54 demographic:

  1. Fox & Friends (FNC): 272,000
  2. New Day (CNN): 131,000
  3. Morning Joe (MSNBC): 79,000

Points to ponder:

  1. CNN does have a lead over MSNBC.
  2. Fox News’ lead over CNN is almost three times the size of CNN’s lead over MSNBC.
  3. Fox News easily beats CNN + MSNBC combined.
  4. Fox News’ lead over CNN + MSNBC combined is larger than CNN’s lead over MSNBC.

Conclusions: While it’s better to be New Day than Morning Joe, the spread between them isn’t that large, especially considering the dominance of Fox & Friends. The fight for second place is a fight for a distant second place, one that shows little promise of advancing any time soon. Any notions that Morning Joe could become the morning show on CBS broadcast are dead–it’s more likely to transition to a little-watched online stream show, if it survives at all. And finally: with the numbers he has, Roger Ailes could run a helluva full-page ad, one that would expose CNN’s advertising ploy as the embarrassment that it was. But he doesn’t have to spend the money. People in The Cable Game are laughing at it already.

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