Mediaite Buries the Lede, For Three Weeks

Each night the website Mediaite summarizes the previous day’s cable news Nielsen ratings. This is basically just data reporting, but the headlines are something else. The Cable Gamer is not alone in spotting some peculiar contortions being used for reasons unknown. Example:

 

Maddow Scores in Key Demo Tuesday, Erin Burnett OutFront Lags Behind in Total Viewers

Twitter was quick to pounce:

Not only did Maddow lose to Hannity, she got fewer demo viewers than Tucker Carlson. So she finished third, behind two other people, yet Mediaite’s headline wants you to know she scored! Scored what? 2nd runner up?

With that as background, today Mediaite produced this headline:

MSNBC’s 11th Hour Tops Demo on Thursday, CNN’s The Lead Second in Time Slot

At least this one is semi-accurate: 11th Hour did top the Thursday demo at 11:00 pm. It was not the top show of the night. That was Hannity, who got no mention at all in the headline. We haven’t seen such hyping of Brian Williams’ show since January 29th:

MSNBC’s The 11th Hour Tops Demo in Time Slot Friday, Cuomo Prime Time Third at 9 PM

1506016897525Why the gap? Because someone else was winning 11:00 pm: Shannon Bream on Fox News. Although this respected attorney-journalist got a late start in the competition with Williams, she worked her way up the ratings ladder and started winning night after night: not just in the key demo but in total viewers too. Look at Mediaite’s ratings headlines covering January 22nd forward and see how they rewarded Ms. Bream for breaking the 11:00 pm glass ceiling:

  • Hannity Most-Watched Cable News Show Monday, MSNBC’s Hardball Last In Demo For Time Slot
  • Fox News’ Martha MacCallum Posts Strong Demo Ratings on Tuesday, Anderson Cooper 360 Struggles
  • Fox News’ Martha MacCallum Posts Strong Demo Ratings on Tuesday, Anderson Cooper 360 Struggles
  • The Five Leads Time Slot Across the Board in Thursday Ratings, CNN Tonight Third at 10 PM
  • Fox News Led All of TV For State of the Union Ratings — Most-Watched in Cable News History
  • MSNBC’s The 11th Hour Tops Demo in Time Slot Friday, Cuomo Prime Time Third at 9 PM
  • Fox News’ Special Report Dominates Time Slot on Wednesday, MSNBC’s The Beat Finishes 3rd in Demo
  • Fox News’ Hannity Has Huge Ratings Day Thursday, CNN’s Erin Burnett Third in Time Slot
  • Fox News’ Outnumbered Posts Big Ratings on Friday, MSNBC’s MTP Daily Third in Demo in Time Slot
  • Tucker Carlson Delivers Big on Monday, CNN’s Situation Room Third in Total Viewers in Time Slot
  • Maddow Scores in Key Demo Tuesday, Erin Burnett OutFront Lags Behind in Total Viewers
  • Hannity Posts Huge Numbers on Wednesday, MSNBC’s Hardball Third in Demo at 7 PM
  • MSNBC’s 11th Hour Tops Demo on Thursday, CNN’s The Lead Second in Time Slot

Spot a pattern? The 11:00 pm rating only makes the headline when MSNBC wins it. When Shannon Bream breaks through and starts a winning streak, the 11:00 pm ratings disappear from the headlines–only to reappear on just the two days MSNBC won the hour. That’s not accidental. The news for ratings-watchers is Shannon Bream surpassing Brian Williams and relegating him to 2nd place. But Mediaite has decided to bury the lede night after night, while flacking for Williams when his infrequent wins allow it.

The pattern is unmistakable. The question is: why?

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One comment

  1. Tom Bennett

    Kind of like the weather report here in Southern California there’s so little to report each night. Two or three sentences should do it.

    For example, something like “Fox News continues its February dominance with across the board sweeps in both total viewers and the key demo winning every hour from 4p – 11p.”

    TVNewser does such a much better job copying this model — coupled with displaying their table.
    http://www.adweek.com/tvnewser/scoreboard-tuesday-february-6/357026

    Like

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