In First Week on Current, Keith Olbermann Beats CNN in Target Demo

Keith Olbermann Blue 2011
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Countdown with Keith Olbermann will debut on Current TV on June 20. The host will reportedly earn $10 million a year for his work on the show, a 40 percent increase from the wages he earned at MSNBC.

Keith Olbermann’s Countdown on Current finished the week ahead of CNN in news’ target demographic of 25-54-year-olds. According to Nielsen, Countdown averaged 131,000 viewers in the demo for the week ending June 24, while CNN’s In the Arena pulled in 117,000 demo viewers.

Arena host Eliot Spitzer was on vacation last week. And CNN beat Current in total viewers in the 8 p.m. hour averaging 379,000 viewers to Current’ 354,000. Countdown did trend down after its June 20 premiere, which drew 179,000 viewers in the demo. But the ratings nevertheless are a victory for the network, which averaged 30,000 viewers in primetime for the first quarter 2011. And Current is in nearly 40 percent fewer homes than CNN.

When Current signed Olbermann, analysts predicted he could improve Current’s ratings ten-fold.

"It is the first thing Current TV has done since launch to put itself on the map," Larry Gerbrandt, principal at Media Valuation Partners, told The Hollywood Reporter at the time. "It's been a non-factor in terms of programming…for the first time, this puts Current on the map as a real player."  

It is a solid first week for Olbermann even if he is still bested by Lawrence O'Donnell, the occupant of his old 8 p.m. slot on MSNBC. Last week, The Last Word averaged 794,000 total viewers with 203,000 in the demo. Since O’Donnell inherited the time slot from Olbermann, who abruptly left MSNBC last January, he has held on to almost all of Olbermann’s audience. Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly, the perennial cable news leader at 8 p.m., averaged 2.7 million viewers with 610,000 in the demo.