Lawrence O'Donnell, buoyed by curiosity about his sudden replacement of Keith Olbermann at MSNBC's 8 o'clock hour, enjoyed roughly 50 percent higher ratings Monday than Olbermann did on average.
O'Donnell's "The Last Word" scored 1.53 million viewers, 332,000 of them in the desired 25-54 demographic, according to preliminary Nielsen numbers released Tuesday. Like Olbermann, O'Donnell came in well behind Fox News' Bill O'Reilly, the perennial ratings champ of cable news. O'Reilly had more than double O'Donnell's tune-in.
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In an interview with TheWrap on Monday, MSNBC President Phil Griffin summarized O'Donnell's ratings target with the word, "O'Reilly." He said he had had the same target for Olbermann.
O'Donnell's ratings were about 50 percent higher than Olbermann averaged in total viewers and the demo. Olbermann averaged 1.038 million total viewers and 268,000 viewers in the demo.
Also Read: O'Donnell Begins MSNBC's Post-Olbermann Era
Of course, Monday was far from an average night — and O'Donnell owed at least some of his audience to Olbermann fans and others curious to see how he would address his sudden shift from 10 p.m. to Olbermann's former time slot. Olbermann announced his abrupt exit from MSNBC on Friday's "Countdown."
O'Donnell paid tribute to his predecessor — and, perhaps, made a play for his audience — by praising Olbermann relentlessly.
"The Rachel Maddow Show" benefitted from O'Donnell's strong lead-in — and, of course, people wanting to know what she would say about Olbermann, who pushed to get her her own show. She bested CNN's Piers Morgan, who, just as O'Donnell did Monday, got a boost in his debut from curiousity seekers.
Sean Hannity handily beat them both, owning the hour just as he almost always did when Larry King had Morgan's time slot. Hannity had 2.25 million viewers (602,000 of them in the demo) to Maddow's 1,377,000 (338,000 in the demo) and Morgan's 763,000 (208,000 in the demo).
Morgan has shed nearly two-thirds of the 2.1 million total viewers for his first show last Monday, though part of the loss was no doubt because of the attention on MSNBC.
The numbers overall:
Fox News' "O’Reilly Factor": 3,485,000 total viewers (815,000 in 25-54)
CNN’s "Parker Spitzer": 483,000 (150,000)
MSNBC’s "Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell: 1,533,000 (332,000)
Fox News' "Hannity": 2,249,000 (602,000)
CNN’s "Piers Morgan Tonight": 763,000 (208,000)
MSNBC’s "The Rachel Maddow Show": 1,377,000 (338,000)