Who’s Really ‘Winning’? Charlie Sheen’s Media Blitz: By the Numbers

From ABC to TMZ, who benefited the most from the “Two and a Half Men” star’s bizarre publicity push

Last Updated: March 3, 2011 @ 11:38 AM

Charlie Sheen’s bizarre media blitz has given a much-needed ratings boost to the handful of media outlets that opted to book him.

But which one is actually “winning” the Sheen Sweepstakes?

Related slideshow: Charlie's Nutso Media Blitz

ABC’s not-so-exclusive “20/20” interview with Sheen, teased on “Good Morning America” on Monday and Tuesday and broadcast Tuesday night, drew 9.3 million viewers and a 3.2 rating — enough to make it the most-watched show on television at 10 p.m. (beating CBS’ “The Good Wife” by 45 percent among adults aged 18-49 and by 15 percent in the 25-54-year-old demographic) and ABC’s best result in that time period in roughly two years.

Monday’s “Good Morning America” — which featured excerpts of Sheen’s interview with ABC News’ Andrea Canning, drew about 5.71 million viewers — good enough to beat NBC’s “Today Show” (5.63 million) which ran the first part of its own two-part interview with Sheen. By comparison, “GMA” drew about 4.6 million viewers two weeks ago — or roughly half a million fewer than “Today.”

But on Tuesday, “Today” drew about 5.89 million for the time period when it aired part two of its interview with the "Two and a Half Men" star, while “GMA” drew 4.85 million, according to affiliate data.

“Today” had an live interview (that NBC absurdly labeled an "exclusive") with Sheen on Wednesday morning — following the court-ordered removal of his twins the night before — but numbers for that one are not yet available.

Also read: Charlie Sheen Loses Custody of Twins After Ex Gets Restraining Order

Meanwhile, Piers Morgan’s live interview with Sheen on Monday drew an average of 1.346 million total viewers and 561,000 in the 25-to-54-year-old demographic — the best result since the show’s debut episode last month (featuring Morgan’s softball interview with Oprah Winfrey). On Monday, Morgan topped MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow for the hour in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, and the midnight (9 p.m. PT) repeat beat MSNBC and Fox in the 25-54 demo — a rarity for CNN. (It wasn’t enough to beat the Fox News “Hannity” replay in total viewers, however.)

TMZ, which conducted a 45-minute poolside interview with Sheen on Monday, did not release traffic figures — but even the replay TMZ posted on Ustream later in the day garnered more than 324,000 views.

Still — custody battle aside (for the moment) — no outlet has capitalized on the Sheen publicity push more than Sheen himself. In the 24 hours since joining Twitter, Sheen has amassed 887,341 followers. (By contrast, Howard Stern, who had Sheen on his Sirius XM satellite radio Tuesday, joined Twitter on Feb. 3 — and his current follower count is 331,909.) Sheen’s first tweet — a Twitpic featuring ex-porn star girlfriend Bree Olson and a jug of chocolate milk — has been viewed 1,166,230 times.

In terms of social media launches, that’s “winning” by any measure.