02/10/2011 03:49 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Cable News Ratings: Egypt and the Olbermann Effect

I normally refrain from commenting on weekly cable news ratings, but last week's results reflect a shift from viewers away from MSNBC to CNN. According to information supplied by Cynopsis (, Fox News continues to dominate, but CNN and MSNBC finished in a virtual tie among primetime viewers, with CNN just 1,000 fewer viewers than MSNBC. In primetime demographics, CNN beat MSNBC in every category.

In total day viewing, CNN finished second to FoxNews in every category except 18-34s, where CNN beat FoxNews and finished first for the first time in a long while. MSNBC was third in every demographic category, with CNN ahead by a significant margin.

It's easy to attribute the primetime change to the departure of Keith Olbermann--no longer the keystone to MSNBC's primetime line up. MSNBC has lost almost 250,000 viewers in the two weeks since Olbermann vanished from the air.

As for total day, CNN's wall to wall coverage of events in Egypt clearly surpassed MSNBC's efforts, although to be fair, Richard Engel did some excellent work there, but once again CNN established itself as a place to go to on a big running story, and, again to be fair, Fox News had almost twice as many total day viewers as CNN, and I guess that establishes Fox as another place to go to on big, breaking stories. The difference was that CNN played it as all Egypt, while Fox stuck mainly to its normal schedule.

Still, last week's ratings left me with some hope that CNN might rise again, at least to second place, and after having knocked CNN management for so long, I'd like to give them credit for one week's good work. I hope it lasts.