Ed Driscoll

Olbermanning Your Way Out of the Business

When you stare into the TV ratings abyss, the abyss doesn’t stare back at you — because it’s already changed the channel:

Countdown is the highest-rated show on Current by far. On Dec. 15, the program averaged 52,000 viewers among news’ target demographic of viewers ages 25-54. The network’s two-hour post-Iowa GOP debate analysis on the same night had 4,000 viewers in the demo, while the 2 a.m. rebroadcast of Countdown pulled in 11,000.

As Tim Groseclose writes at Ricochet, “Only 52,000 viewers?  And it’s the highest-rated show on Current ‘by far’?”

Which is something to keep in mind as “Rift Between Olbermann and Current TV Deepens: ‘Everybody Is Replaceable,'” The Wrap reports:

Keith Olbermann returned to the airwaves Wednesday night, but the rift between the bad boy anchor and his superiors at Current TV has not dissipated a day after he refused to lead the network’s coverage of the Iowa caucus, TheWrap has learned.

The newsman has tapped high-powered lawyer Patricia Glaser to “determine his rights” in his five-year contract, an individual close to him told TheWrap.

Meanwhile, executives at Current TV said that relations – especially those with Current CEO Joel Hyatt – were at a breaking point after deteriorating over the past several months.

“I hope Keith is part of our future, but it’s up to Keith,” an executive with Current who declined to be identified told TheWrap. “Keith set us in the right direction and we’re on that path now … and as I’ve learned over the years, everybody is replaceable.”

Several years ago at the original incarnation of the Libertas film blog, there was a post that used the phrase “Assholing your way out of show business,” which is what happens when an actor or actress’s ego gets so big and their treatment of everyone on the set becomes so painful to deal with, he or she becomes too toxic for most directors to work with, no matter what the actual performance looks like on screen. Having gone through ESPN, Fox Sports, MSNBC and now lowly Current TV, where does Olbermann go next? (Allahpundit suggests that CNN might be desperate enough to hire him, but would they really do so knowing how much baggage he brings to the gig?)

Related: Elsewhere in the world of old media, “Newspaper shares plunged 27% in 2011:”

If you take the increase in News Corp.’s stock price out of the mix, the average plunge in newspaper share value last year was 30.1%. This compares with a 5.5% increase in the Dow Jones average of 30 industrial stocks and the flat performance of the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index, which gained a meager 0.04% after a year of dramatic market swings.

Minus the $45 billion market capitalization of News Corp., the total value of the shares of the 10 other publishers at year’s end was a bit over $10 billion, or less than three-quarters of the $13.9 billion that Gannett alone was worth at the end of 2005, the year the industry set a record for the most advertising sales in history.

Well, it’s not like the newspaper industry has a Nobel Prize-winning economist it can turn to, to help them navigate today’s treacherous business conditions.

Oh wait.

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