Lawrence O'Donnell's 8PM Premiere Gets 50% More Viewers Than Olbermann's Average

January 26th, 2011 1:42 AM

The folks at MSNBC - and new owners Comcast for that matter - must have been jumping for joy when they saw the Neilsen ratings for their first official night without Keith Olbermann.

As the New York Times reported Tuesday, "The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell" premiere in "Countdown's" regular 8PM time slot attracted almost 50 percent more viewers than Olbermann has averaged recently:

Lawrence O’Donnell clearly benefited, as he averaged 1.5 million total viewers for his first night as Mr. Olbermann’s replacement. That was up a little under 50 percent from Mr. Olbermann’s average number in that hour, just over 1 million viewers. And yes, Mr. O’Donnell did pay tribute to Mr. Olbermann, saying he owed his introduction to the network to him.

So did the 9 p.m. host Rachel Maddow, and her show was up by about the same amount to 1.4 million viewers for the hour. Both shows dwarfed the numbers for one competitor, CNN, though as usual, they trailed the leading news channel, Fox News.

The folks at TV By The Numbers reported a slightly higher figure than the Times claiming O'Donnell got a total of 1,533,00 viewers. This was larger than the 1,499,000 Olbermann got on November 9 after his brief suspension last year.

This deliciously means that more people tuned in to see Olbermann's replacement than his triumphant return.

The "good news" led Hot Air's Allahpundit to marvelously quip:

Two words, in honor of a guy who used to read the teleprompter on SportsCenter before discovering that he was the modern-day answer to Edward R. Murrow: Wally Pipp.

For those unfamiliar with the name, Wally Pipp was the star New York Yankee first baseman in the early part of the 20th century that not only recruited and talked long-time manager Miller Huggins into signing Lou Gehrig to the team, but also personally helped develop him as a rookie.

On June 2, 1925, Pipp was removed from the Yankee's lineup for a number of historically disputed reasons only to be replaced by - wait for it - Lou Gehrig who of course went on to become one of the greatest players in history competing in 2,130 consecutive games - a record unbroken until Cal Ripken did it in 1995.

For his part, Pipp ended up getting traded to the Cincinnati Reds the following season and retired two years later.

Nicely played, AP. Bravo!