Should MSNBC Be Worried About The Ed Show?

It has only been a week, but after a strong debut on Monday, Ed Schultz’s The Ed Show on MSNBC settled back into drawing the same number of viewers that the previous program had in that slot. Not even a special prime time edition of the program drew well. Does this mean that MSNBC needs to be worried about The Ed Show?

After posting a strong 825,000 viewers for his debut on Monday, he dropped to 602,000 total viewers on Tuesday, and the week only got worse on Wednesday and Thursday as he drew 406,000 total viewers on Wednesday, and only 498,000 viewers on Thursday. Some erosion from his debut numbers were to be expected, but Schultz lost almost half of his audience in four days, and I have my own theory as to why. Current events shows need to either have an appealing gimmick, or attract top guests to be successful, and so far The Ed Show has done neither.

A cause for optimism at MSNBC might be that they gave Schultz a night in Olbermann’s 8 PM ET time spot on Thursday, and he drew about 2/3 of Countdown’s audience. They can hope that this exposure leads to more viewers at 6 PM. The problem is that the network decided to do not an all new show for 8 PM, but a half new, half repeat episode. I understand the decision because the network was hoping that a half rerun might catch viewers who didn’t watch at 6 PM, but it a safe bet that those who watched the program at 6 tuned out at 8:30. A few people have also brought up the point that The Ed Show is a show directed at working people, but it airs when most people are still working.

After a week of watching The Ed Show, I can tell you that I found it dull. Schultz came off as just another blustering talking head. There was actually very little information on the program, and Schultz spent the week acting like the blue collar Larry King. He didn’t ask a single tough question, especially to Sen. Chris Dodd over the AIG bailouts. Chris Matthews did a much better job when Dodd was on Hardball. Dodd is going to be in a fight for his political life next year, but Schultz didn’t want to push him at all.

This show has a bit of an identity crisis. Is it Lou Dobbs, or Keith Olbermann? I ask this because Schultz had right wing anti-immigrant and immigration Congressman Tom Tancredo on, and did not challenge him in the least, even when Tancredo suggested that the U.S. should cut legal immigration into the country. Tancredo is a Lou Dobbs favorite, which made me wonder if Schultz isn’t trying to be the liberal answer to Dobbs? Conservatives love to have their values and viewpoints reaffirmed in their media, but liberals are usually broader in their media tastes, which could be hurting Schultz.

It is still too early to tell which way, The Ed Show will go, but MSNBC has not been afraid to make changes at 6 PM. There have been three different shows in this slot in the past year. I think it is fair to ask if there is a place for a pro-union show in cable news.

Schultz’s show is the most pro-union in the MSNBC lineup, which ironically enough might make him too old school liberal for MSNBC’s younger audience, for whom unionization isn’t a big issue. I think that the show still has potential, but if The Ed Show doesn’t pick up viewers, it will be interesting to see how long MSNBC sticks with it.

(h/t: tvnewser for the ratings).

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15 Replies to “Should MSNBC Be Worried About The Ed Show?”

  1. I’ve never really liked Shultz when I’ve seen him as a talking head on other shows. I haven’t actually seen this show yet but I don’t have high hopes for it… What you’re saying here is pretty much what I was worried about with it.

  2. I agree with you. It was nice to have someone on tv at 6 pm who was a competent interviewer. Plus, 1600 had developed some nice segments. Remember, Shuster will be back on from 3-5 weekdays. This is a bad schedule for anyone who has a job. I think they should plug Shuster in at 5 pm and move Hardball to 7 pm.

  3. We miss “1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.” We rushed home just to catch Dave Shuster live. It was a quick paced and very smart show. Dave Shuster was the main reason why we watched MSNBC. We actually tried to watch The Ed Show and turned it off 3/4 of the way into it. So not interested in another middle-age white man who loves to listen to himself rant and rave. We hope that they bring back Dave at that hour! He is so heads above Ed as a TV anchor and interviewer.

  4. I thought that Shuster asked good , smart, tough questions, and was well informed.
    However in defense of The Ed Show, you have Easter and Taxes at the Same time. I did not have a chance to catch the show until today.

  5. I thought Monday’s show was his best yet, and it was obvious today that they are tinkering with his format, so let’s not pass final judgment, just yet.

  6. First of all, the set of his show is RIDICULOUS! All of the moving LED meters – somebody in the design unit had a really stupid idea. He looks like some kind of news clown or something. And the format – the segments themselves – they are just awkward and poorly written. I feel bad for the guy. Seems to me he’s been coached to be something he’s not. I enjoy listening to him on Air America – but this show is too painful to watch.

  7. I didn’t like “1600” because it was so hopelessly thick and gooey with guests like that one creepy guy, I’ve already forgotten his name, thank God, but he’s young enough to fight for his country in Iraq (but wouln’t dream of it), has a “lazy eye,” and he’s African-America as to race, but NAAAAASALLY white and Republican in every other way, to such a gross extent that he sort of goes around to all the talking head shows and makes it his business to grab the parents and widows and orphans of troops killed in Iraq by the hair and slam their faces into the mud with giggling glee, shouting, “Stay in Iraq Forever!! Stay in Iraq Forever!!” He was on ALL THE TIME! I simply couldn’t tune in and watch “1600” because it was sickening in that one regard, though I like David Schuster and he’s great at what he does.” I like The Ed Show too. I like his format, I like his gimmicks, and his guests are somewhat less morbidly insulting to the majority of Americans than Schuster’s were. But y’all are right, Ed doesn’t challenge these boobs at all. It is deeply aggravating.

  8. I just can’t get into the Ed Show. He comes across as a liberal Hannity…lots of ranting, soft on guests, a bit too shallow for me. Shuster is very good at challenging guests. I’d like to see him back at 6 PM

  9. I wanted to like the new ED SHOW. I think Ed’s a decent radio guy with a big heart for the unions and working folks. However, on TV he comes off as sort of clueless in his interviews and not very probing. Boring too.

    Not sure Ed is right for msnbc.

  10. I used to not like Shuster, mainly because I was a Hillary supporter and felt defensive over his “pimping” comment. That and his nasally voice is practically a caricature of itself.

    But Shuster came back and won me over. He is competent, smart, and hard-working. And relatively young with a reasonable easy-going personality.

    We don’t need another liberal with a simplistic “it’s so obvious” mindset in the news cycle, especially not a bizzarro Rush Limbaugh. This show seems to be a vehicle for other talking heads.

    And if you’re trying to make the switch from radio to TV, why would you have a radio sound meter meter as your set theme?

    Bring back Shuster!

  11. David Shuster did a great job on 1600 and I always enjoyed his wit and sharp interviewing style. Now we’ve got “Ed”. He seems like a nice guy, but the show is just plain clumsy and awkward…and I feel like I should get a life-time supply of Rice-a-Roni just for watching. I used to be tuned in to MSNBC all evening after work, but with “Ed” I can’t make it 10 minutes without changing the channel. This show disrupts the rhythm of the entire evening line-up and I just can’t see it least not for me.

  12. I love The Ed Show,he tells it like it is. The only people who doesn’t like it are republicans and that says volumes.One thing about Ed it doesn’t matter who’s right or wrong,he attacks them all. I worry about the nut (GLENN BECK) on Fox.Don’t let your kids watch him.Sometimes I think he’s high,on drugs or need to be admitted.


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