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Clinton video ratings way short of boffo

CNN scores coup with testimony

NEW YORK — The live feed of President Clinton’s videotaped testimony for the Kenneth Starr grand jury Monday morning gave the cable news channels a ratings boost, while the broadcast networks didn’t quite match their usual daytime performance.

The projected total household audience — the combination of ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC and Fox News Channel — for Clinton’s testimony is 18.6 million homes, according to Nielsen Media Research, which used the time period 6 a.m.-11 p.m.

Nielsen projected the four-plus hours of Clinton’s response to questions about his relationship with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky averaged an 18.8 rating. In total, 22.5 million people aged 2 and up watched the testimony.

As a comparison, 90 million watched at least part of the president’s post-testimony mea culpa Aug. 19, and more than 53 million watched his State of the Union address this year; both were during primetime. And 150 million watched the verdict in the O.J. Simpson murder trial.

Nielsen spokesman Jack Loftus noted that the out-of-home viewing audience, from the workplace and college dorms, was probably quite high for the Clinton testimony. Out-of-home viewing is not included in the Nielsen sample.

Clinton’s four-hour testimony, which ran from 6:25 a.m.-10:39 a.m., registered as CNN’s second-highest rated program this year with a 4.1 total U.S. rating (5.5 rating in CNN’s cable universe) and 4.1 million households.

The Clinton tapes generated nine times CNN’s usual 0.6 cable universe rating and 431,000 homes in the time period.

CNN’s highest-rated day

Monday was also CNN’s highest-rated day of the year. The news outlet bagged a 2.2 cable universe rating and 1.7 million homes.

CBS and NBC both tallied larger audiences than CNN.

From 9 a.m.-2 p.m., CBS averaged a 5.2/16 and 5.2 million homes. NBC, from 9 a.m.-2 p.m., averaged a 4.5/13 and 4.5 million households.

From 9:14 a.m.-1:54 p.m., ABC earned a 3.3/10 and 3.3 million households.

Comparisons to normal ratings for the timeslot are difficult to calculate because the time period of Clinton’s testimony is made up of a combination of network and local programming.

Eye led nets

Clinton ratings leader CBS has three network shows that air during the time periods. CBS’ “The Price Is Right,” which airs from 11:30 a.m.-noon, averaged a 4.8 rating the week prior; “The Young & the Restless,” which runs from 12:30-1:30 p.m., averaged a 6.5 rating the week before; and “The Bold and the Beautiful,” which airs from 1:30-2 p.m., last week averaged a 4.6.

MSNBC snared a 1.1 total U.S. rating (2.5 cable universe rating), good for almost 1.1 million households. MSNBC averages a 0.3 cable universe rating and 117,000 homes during that time of the day.

Fox News Channel generated a 0.6 total U.S. rating (2.0 cable universe rating) and 669,000 households with the Clinton tapes. The News Corp.-owned cable web normally averages a 0.2 cable universe rating and 61,000 households in the time period.

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