First, I’m always amused when Liberal blogs bring up TV ratings. Even with his supposedly collapsing numbers, Glenn Beck blows everyone at MSNBC out of the water. For example, in Thursday’s numbers, Beck carried 3.9 times more viewers than his time-slot counterpart Chris Matthews on MSNBC, and 4.1 times more viewers than Blitzer on CNN who also shares the 5 PM hour. Beck’s audience is about twice the size of Olbermann’s or Maddow’s even though both MSNBC hosts occupy more favorable time slots.
Regardless, the Daily Kos is giddy at the prospect of Beck losing viewers—even if the MSNBC audience isn’t growing. They’ve diligently tracked his data, and reported to day that the show has seen a startling decline in viewership. But their superficial analysis is hardly indicative of the show’s imminent collapse. Here’s the graph the Daily Kos wouldn’t show you using the same Nielsen data that produced their results:
From this graph, two things become clear. First, at the beginning of this year, Beck’s ratings were already riding high amid the fallout from the Senate’s Christmas Eve Health Care vote. Then, Beck’s ratings got a major boost in mid-January. The precise date was Monday, 18 January 2010. His viewership jumped from 2.52 million on the previous Friday to 3.16 million. Coincidence? Not exactly.
January 18 was the day before the Massachusetts special election to fill the “Kennedy seat.” All eyes were on Massachusetts voters. If I had to wager, I’d bet all the pundits were performing better than average. Beck’s viewership peaked that Friday at 3.99 million before beginning the slow decline back to his natural rhythm. As you can see from the graph, we’ve reached that point.
Furthermore, If you aren’t cherry-picking data, even the Kos’ claim of year-to-year decline doesn’t hold water. Average viewership over the past three weeks is up 5.5% over the corresponding weeks from the 2009 data. That’s almost a ten-point swing from the 4% decline reported by Kos. When you analyze the underlying data, it becomes clear that the Kos’ analysis represents wishful thinking. Since they can’t compete in the realm of ideas, they’re content to find convenient data plots that suggest Beck’s message is being rejected by the U.S.
Finally, as long as liberals are taking comfort in the knowledge that 99% of Americans aren’t watching FOX News on any given night, the rest of us can take comfort knowing that 99.75% aren’t watching the all-white, predominantly-male MSNBC lineup.