Countdown Getting Comfy In 3rd Place

By Brian 

In the 25-54 demo, “we have in the last year moved from third place at 8 p.m., past CNN, into second place, which is, if not unprecedented at MSNBC, it is unprecedented in the last 100 years, 200? OK, five years,” Keith Olbermann said at the TCA Press Tour on Saturday. The TV critics laughed. But Countdown may be losing its grip on second place.

In the first and second quarters of 2006, Olbermann beat Paula Zahn in the demo. But in June, CNN had a clear lead over MSNBC at 8pm. So far this month, the trend is continuing. “Zahn has beaten Olbermann 10 out of 11 days their shows have aired this month,” an e-mailer noted on Thursday. And these program averages since July 12, when the Middle East crisis intensified, show Olbermann averaging 180,000 demo viewers, compared to 304,000 for Zahn.

CNN’s numbers always spike during big news cycles. Countdown’s numbers are up too, but not by nearly as much. How much longer can Olbermann claim second place at 8pm?