Keith Olbermann is not in the witness protection program, but he might as well be. His show on Al Gore’s Current TV(America’s least watched network) has lost nearly a third of its viewers in four months.
Pretty impressive result for $10 million a year. That’s just his salary.
Countdown with Keith Olbermann was a major draw when it was onMSNBC. On January 21, the network took a big hit when Olbermann announced on air that that would be his last show for them. Then in June, Current launched Olbermann and Countdown.
It was no surprise that Olbermann drew a big audience for its early shows - averaging 106,000 viewers a night. Unfortunately, by August it was down to 79,000. Last month’s numbers were even worse. Olbermann’s average was down to 46,000 viewers and was in no danger of coming close to breaking into the top 30 cable TV news shows. None of the top 30 is all that impressive in terms of audience when judged against non-pundit TV shows. For the third quarter of this year No.1 Bill O’Reilly had 2.8 million total viewers, while No. 30 - the 12 AM showing of Dr. Drew on HLN - had 435,000. For comparison, Charlie’s Angels got 5.9 million viewers last week and a cancellation.
To be fair, even at 46,000 Olbermann is still drawing twice what Current was getting before him. Pre-Olbermann, the network was averaging about 23,000 viewers a day in 2010. That means nationwide they had fewer eyeballs than a CW affiliate does in a mid-sized city. (The 2010 numbers are the most recent because Current’s audience is so small that Nielsen only tracks them when the network pays it to and even then the numbers aren’t given to the public.)