King Of Pop's Death Spurs Old-School TV Watching

The reality show that was Michael Jackson's death continued to occupy the airwaves heading into the weekend.

On Thursday late afternoon/early evening cable news coverage lifted virtually all cable news networks over their viewing averages, according to Nielsen Media Research -- 3.2 million viewers for CNN; 2.3 million for Fox News; and 1.1 million for MSNBC.

CNN grabbed a high 3.9 million with "Larry King Live" at 9 p.m., and Fox News got to 3.4 million with its Shepard Smith-anchored 8 p.m. show.

Broadcast news shows in prime time also posted better numbers. At 9 p.m. ABC's "20/20: Michael Jackson" took in 5.7 million viewers and NBC's special "Dateline: Michael Jackson" got to 5.2 million viewers.

The best numbers for Jackson came from that older-skewing network, CBS, with a 10 p.m. Jackson special posting 7.7 million viewers, led in at 9 p.m. with a "CSI" repeat which took in 8.5 million viewers.



Other audience metrics also looked good for CBS. Among 18-49 viewers, CBS posted the best Jackson results -- a 2.0 rating /6 share. CBS tied ABC's Jackson special among younger viewers, with a 1.3/4 rating among 18-34 viewers.

What does this say?

That some of the old rules of television still are in force, that lead-in and lead-out programming matter -- especially at CBS. Roll in the fact that no network -- broadcast or cable -- had much time to prepare for the evening, in terms of tune-in promotion for viewers.

The big sudden story also took out much of the DVR factor, with viewers improvising, perhaps watching fewer time-shifted shows.

Viewers had to go old school to find what they needed, turning on some old-fashioned live TV.

1 comment about "King Of Pop's Death Spurs Old-School TV Watching ".
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  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, June 30, 2009 at 8:35 a.m.

    An exception was made to the proven rule that TV is not what it once was, and will not be again until the next really big story. Can old school wait that long?

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