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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Fri Dec 6, 2013, 03:25 PM

116. All cable "news" is a niche market

Will provides a good reminder with first hand information about how MSNBC is a corporate organ, and nothing you ever see on it will seriously challenge the interests of the Masters of the Universe who own and manage NBC-Universal. I do not read him as advising anybody to refuse to watch Rachel Maddow or even Joe Scarbrough -- he just urges you to remember who is in charge.

Several posters on this thread have speculated as to the corporate motivation for the programming strategy of MSNBC and the expression "niche market" came up more than once to describe the left leaning audience for Donohue, Olbermann, Maddow, Sharpton and Schultze. But nobody seems to recognize how tiny the market for all of cable news is. Here are the figures as of last month:


PRIMETIME 8-11PM/ET
FNC: 2,011,000 total viewers down 21% (338,000 in 25-54 down 41%)
CNN: 481,000 total viewers down 54%; (153,000 in 25-54 down 62%)
MSNBC: 645,000 total viewers down 50%; (190,000 in 25-54 down 57%)
HLN: 278,000 total viewers down 2%; (90,000 in 25-54 down 17%)


Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/november-cable-news-ratings-fox-news-msnbc-cnn-2013-11#ixzz2mirds2HQ

There are more than 316 million people residing in the USA. The prime time audience for all four news channels adds up to less than three and half million people, a little more than one percent of the population. Fox dominates the field with their perpetual propaganda, reaching about 6 tenths of one percent of America.

Note also the demographic splits. For each of the four networks, the 25-54 age group makes up less than a third of audience. Just as with the Republican Party base, we are looking at an aging population of politics junkies that will shrink inexorably over the next couple of decades.

I understand that Nielsen's techniques have some functional difficulty dealing with open ended programming like "news" and it is close to impossible to measure the real number of people who run the remote up and down the list, pausing for a few minutes at a time on a given channel. I would bet that Fox probably reaches a much higher number of individual human beings if you could calculate everybody who is tuned in for more than 60 seconds -- but you can't really call such viewers part of your audience.

When you look at MSNBC or Fox, it looks just like Cronkite and Howard K. Smith with a talking head sitting at a desk, and it gives you the feeling that we used to have when there were only three networks, and you were part of the mass audience of our national community. That feeling is wrong -- even as you watch the top rated shows on Fox, you are part of the micro-niche of political junkies.

That is the reason why an asshole corporate Leviathan like Comcast is willing to let Rachel Maddow push the envelop of "acceptable" commentary -- even during the election campaign when all the news outlets are reaching their largest audiences, only a tiny sliver of the population is watching. (And of course, not all of them understand what they are seeing). They do have limits, and when it comes to something as big as thumping the tub for a bogus war, you can bet that Comcast will play it out the same way that GE did. But if MSNBC started to pull in upwards of 10 million viewers, you would see a huge programming change, inspite of the amount of profit that could come from such a big audience.

For the same reason I doubt very seriously if there is any Machievellian logic behind those god-awful prison shows. As noted on this thread, they are hugely profitable due to their very low production costs -- and the niche market that is always ready to tune into human misery.


As a culture, we are still having a hard time digesting the new reality of the Information Age. The power of television will never again be what it was when there were only three networks.

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