*The controversial Conrad Murray documentary was not necessarily a ratings bonanza for MNSBC, but it managed to give the network a win in the all-important 25-54 demographic among its cable news competitors.
“Michael Jackson and the Doctor: A Fatal Friendship” averaged 240,000 viewers in the demo last Friday at 10 p.m., the time slot where MSNBC traditionally airs documentaries. That was enough to best top-rated news Fox News in the demo. But the documentary was third in the hour among total viewers with 525,000.
As previously reported, MSNBC licensed the documentary, which was produced by October Films and U.K.-based what’s it all about? productions. The deal included a pre-verdict “promotional” interview with Murray, which NBC gave prime placement on “Today” the morning after Murray was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Michael Jackson.
Reps for Jackson implored MSNBC not to air the documentary and questioned whether money made on the film was somehow being funneled to Murray. The documentary also raised new questions about checkbook journalism, since the license fee did include an interview with Murray.
In the wake of the Casey Anthony trial, news divisions publicly disavowed the practice of licensing photos and videos as a way of paying interview subjects.