During today's announcement that Olbie has signed on with al-Gorezeera, they told a few big uns, you know, lies, such as this one reported by Politico's Keach Hagey.
But the pristine environment that Current TV provides comes with challenges. It’s much lower rated than Olbermann’s past home at MSNBC, though Gore was quick to point out that Current now has more subscribers (60 million households) in the U.S. than MSNBC did when Olbermann started “Countdown” in 2003. Still, Current TV is usually only available on the digital tier of cable boxes, whereas MSNBC, now available in 85 million homes, is typically part of a basic cable package.Current TV is part of Time Warner Cable's Variety Pack. TWC customers do not subscribe, they're stuck with it. If I don't want al-Gorezeera, I have to cancel the package, losing in the process the quality programming of the Fox Business Network, Military Channel, Reelz Channel, Speed, Military History Channel and others.
60 million subscribers, al-Gore? Not hardly, but don't just take my word for it. What do the real numbers say? Fortune mag's JP Mangalindan included this little tidbit at the conclusion of his overview of Olbermann's effect on the bottom line of Current TV.
After two weeks of speculation, Keith Olbermann announced he will host a new nightly hour-long primetime news and commentary show on Current TV, the low-rated network co-founded by former Vice President Al Gore.Indeed.
Though details of Olbermann's deal with Current TV have yet to surface, you can bet he's being paid no small sum, perhaps less than the amount he received from MSNBC, but Current TV is a far leaner operation to begin with. The question moving forward will be whether Olbermann's arrival translates to a bump in overall viewership -- Current TV brings in a paltry 23,000 prime time viewers a night -- and justifies his paycheck. Ultimately, Stern's relative failure for Sirius could prove a prescient indicator of Olbermann's trajectory, too. It remains to be seen whether resting the future prospects of a media outlet squarely on the shoulders of one public individual can be a recipe for success.
Edward R. Murrow is laughing his ass off.