note from your friendly blogarist: “Paint by Numbers” will be an occasional, yet regular,  feature of daily Xpress meant to reach behind the press releases for a more accurate picture of the state of broadcast news than reported by MSM and industry websites.


The inaugural column of  Paint by Numbers looks at this week’s entry from “TV Newser” reporting the current state of competition amongst the morning shows.  Here’s our first tutorial: the story re-posted here is based on a press release which addresses Nielsen’s tally of  total viewers, a common public relations ploy.  Those who understand the business of the news business know the only viewership that matters, the viewership which determines profitability and stability,  is adults 25-54, more commonly called the demo.

The Today Show winning streak is not challenged.  But the fight for #2 and #3 may not quite look the same in the Paint by Numbers that follows the TVNewser take:

Morning Show Ratings: Week of Dec.6

By Molly Stark Dean on December 16, 2010 2:20 PM

The “Today” show was still on top last week — another week closer to a 16-year streak.

“Today” topped #2 “Good Morning America,” but GMA cut the total viewing gap with NBC’s “Today” by -10% week-to-week and -20% year-to-year. Co-anchor George Stephanopoulos was in Afghanistan Monday, and off Tuesday.

“GMA” increased its total viewership by 2% week-to-week.

CBS’ “The Early Show” increased by 7K from week-to-week.

The averages for the week of December 6:

Total Viewers: NBC: 5.65M / ABC: 4.68M / CBS: 3.09M

A25-54 rating: NBC: 2.68M / ABC: 1.75M / CBS: 1.28M

daily Xpress continues

Paint by Numbers: the Morning Show Demo Analysis

For the week of December 6th, GMA was the only show down week-to-week and year-to-year in the demo. Today’s advantage over GMA grew to +930,000 and GMA’s advantage over Early shrunk to +470,000, smallest gap in many years.

demo week to week:

Dec 6      A25-54 rating: NBC: 2.68M / ABC: 1.75M / CBS: 1.28M

Nov 29    A25-54 rating: NBC: 2.62M / ABC: 1.77M/  CBS: 1.21M

Now, here’s our analysis:  news divisions should not be motivated by ratings alone. Clearly George Stephanopoulos and his team decided it was important to visit Afghanistan.  And while it may have given GMA a slight ratings hit, they can still say, “we went there because it’s our obligation as ABC News.”

That’s your paint by numbers kit for now.  Lots more to come.