Lawrence O’Donnell Ratings: Olbermann Successor Tries to Keep His Audience

“The Last Word” holds much of Olbermann’s audience, partly because of Egypt coverage

As Keith Olbermann announces his next venture, his successor in MSNBC's 8 p.m. slot is holding on to most of his viewership — at least in part because of the Egyptian protests dominating cable news.

Lawrence O'Donnell's "The Last Word" averaged 1.17 million viewers a night over his first week, many of them curiosity seekers wondering what he would say about Olbermann. He praised him effusively, earning goodwill from Friends of Keith. O'Donnell earned 257,000 viewers in the prized 25-54 demographic.

Also read: Olbermann on Current: 'Amplified' — But With a Smaller Audience

That was better than Olbermann's average number of total viewers last year — 1.04 million — but not as good in the demo, where Olbermann averaged 268,000 viewers.

O'Donnell slipped to an average of 987,000 viewers a night last week, 216,000 of them in the demo. Not Olbermann numbers, but not a complete skid, either.

Still, O'Donnell is a long way from meeting the ratings goal MSNBC President Phil Griffin summarizes in one word: O'Reilly. Griffin had the same goal for Olbermann.

Also read: MSNBC Chief: With Olbermann Out, 'Nothing Changes'

Bill O'Reilly's "The O'Reilly Factor" on Fox News is the perennial cable news champion, averaging about three times as many viewers as Olbermann or O'Donnell. O'Reilly averaged 3.2 million total viewers per night last year, 781,000 of them in the demo.

O'Reilly has averaged 3.2 million viewers per night since O'Donnell's debut, though he was up in the demo to 809,000 viewers.

In total viewers, both O'Reilly and O'Donnell are well ahead of CNN's "Parker Spitzer." It earned 782,000 total viewers and 263,000 viewers in the demo last week.

But "Parker Spitzer" has picked up viewers. On the week of January 24, when O'Donnell debuted at 8 p.m., it had only 534,000 total viewers, 163,000 of them in the demo.

Despite ratings bumps from Egypt coverage, Fox News has outdrawn MSNBC and CNN combined in average daily viewers since the story broke.