‘Rock Center:’ New Time, Same Challenge

By Chris Ariens 

Brian Williams didn’t make it to The Hollywood Reporter 35 Most Powerful event last night, because the honoree was anchoring “Rock Center,” in its new, old, timeslot.

Up against “American Idol,” (17.1 million on FOX) “Criminal Minds,” (11.7 million on CBS) and sitcoms on ABC (8.62M) it was a rough night. “Rock Center” drew 2.62 million total viewers, its second-lowest outing, and down from its previous three airings of 3.02M on March 21; 3.34M on March 28 and 2.97M on April 4.

The 2.62 million draw at 9pm is -19% less than cable news’s #1 show, “The O’Reilly Factor,” drew at 8pm: 3.13 million. In fact, this is the fifth week in a row that “O’Reilly” has topped “Rock Center.”

You may recall, Williams and Bill O’Reilly once went head-to-head on cable, when Williams anchored “The News with Brian Williams” on MSNBC. We thought it would be interesting to see this match-up. So we put out a call for some ratings.

Below is the week of July 9, 2001, when “The News” began airing at 8pmET. By then, Williams was being groomed for bigger and better things at the network, substitute hosts began filling in. “The News” went off MSNBC altogether a year later in July 2002 making room for “Donahue.” This was also the period, following the 2000 presidential election and before 9/11, that Fox News started to take off.

  • The O’Reilly Factor — 1.833 Total Viewers / 598,000 A25-54 Viewers
  • The News with Brian Williams — 470,000 Total Viewers / 208,000 A25-54 Viewers