MSNBC Scores a Big Hit With Lawrence O’Donnell’s The Last Word

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It looks like MSNBC has a big hit on their hands with Lawrence O’Donnell’s 10 PM program The Last Word. Not only is his audience growing, but on Tuesday, he did something unheard of for new show on MSNBC. He broke into the Olbermann/Maddow rare air of having over 1 million total viewers.

The ratings for The Last Word have been outstanding since the program debuted as MSNBC’s top rated show on September 28th. On that night, helped by an interview with Vice President Joe Biden, The Last Word had 928,000 total viewers, compared to 778,000 for Rachel Maddow, and 892,000 for Keith Olbermann. Lots of new shows have big debuts, but what makes O’Donnell’s show different is that it is sustaining and growing.

Viewers liked the first show because they came back and more for the second night. For show number two, O’Donnell had 953,000 total viewers, which was virtually identical to his lead in Rachel Maddow’s 969,000 total viewers. On night three of the show, The Last Word had 935,000 total viewers, and kept a vast majority of Rachel Maddow’s total audience of 1.11 million. On Monday October 4th, O’Donnell actually outperformed his Maddow lead in, 887,000 total viewers to 854,000 total viewers. On Tuesday, October 5th, The Last Word broke 1 million total viewers with 1.017 million viewers. O’Donnell was aided by a large lead in audience from Maddow of 1.294 million viewers.

MSNBC has been trying for what seems like forever to launch hit shows, and they finally have one with The Last Word. They thought that Ed Schultz and The Ed Show were going to blow up this way, but instead it took Schultz time to find and grow his audience, and the reward is that Schultz just had his highest rated quarter ever. It took Rachel Maddow’s show a bit of time to grow and develop, but O’Donnell has come storming out of the gate and burying CNN and Anderson Cooper.

Most encouraging for both O’Donnell and the network is that not only is he holding on to Rachel Maddow’s audience, but his ratings are better than the Countdown replay that used to air in the 10 PM slot. It is no secret why The Last Word has been successful. The key to his success is really good guests. O’Donnell is attracting guests who would not normally turn up on MSNBC like Charlie Crist, Levi Johnston, and Michael Steele. Unlike Olbermann, O’Donnell actually has Republicans on his show. (Rachel Maddow would love to have Republicans on her show, but they are terrified of her, and refuse to come on).

I think The Last Word, which is more fact than opinion based, is the perfect compliment to The Rachel Maddow Show. It was a mystery to many MSNBC viewers why the network took so long to take advantage of the lead in audience that Rachel Maddow generates. O’Donnell’s start is even more impressive because isn’t easy for a new show to debut so strongly, just ask CNN’s Spitzer/Parker which has gotten off to an awful start, mostly due to the fact that it is a terrible show, but he has done it. I think MSNBC has hit a home run with The Last Word. What do you think?

All ratings info via TV by the Numbers

21 Replies to “MSNBC Scores a Big Hit With Lawrence O’Donnell’s The Last Word”

  1. I like it, but whoever is feeding him his lines, whether it’s a teleprompter or intern holding cards, they’re messing up a lot. He stumbles a lot, which is unusual for him…. they need a first rate crew if he’s going to have a first rate show….

  2. I have been watching O’Donnell, but am reserving a final judgment.

    Something’s a little off with his show, but it could just be that it’s a new show working out the inevitable small problems. One thing that’s a little annoying is the frequent references to his insider perspective. Just do your thing, Lawrence, and your expertise will show.

    I certainly liked O’Donnell when he was a guest host on Olbermann’s show, and wish him the best on his new show.

  3. @smarg You just try to work one in there on every thread, don’t you? I respect your commitment. :)

  4. Omg smarg note this is what it looks like when teleprompter fails unlike when Palin lied about hers failing

  5. I don’t know….him having Levi on was….Crass! Ok so Levi probably dragged his reality show crew with him, but come on! Asking him all these out there question for Mayor of WASILLA!Asking Levi International News questions is different that asking a potential candidate for VP the same things!
    Dumbass Grizzle was mayor! that means anyone can be mayor in that town!
    grrrr! :(
    I used to like Laurence but sometimes on Keith show he just rubbed me the wrong way.
    Now I can’t see rerun of Keith & Rachel show. I just turn off the channel after them.
    For now that’s my take on it. It was so cheesy to have Levi on.

  6. He’s a known Troll. They banned him at HP. Check for him, tons of news sites he goes and posts on. Either he’s a immature teen or a pay-per-post repugli-troll, maybe a F(au)X plant. *shrug*

  7. If he is depending on getting his base from oberman/maddow carryovers, then he will have to format his show in their vein. The formula of Republicans are bad, Democrates are good will appeal to the few hundred thousand that will settle out of chronic viewers. But in the end he will end up as the aforementioned oberman/maddow. His ratings will mirror the core fo msnbc 10pm slot. Poor. After the election, if there is a republicican wave as predicted in many opinion pieces, his ratings will flounder if the post election year is devoid of key players. If maddows ratings were better, republicans would not be so “scared”, they would feel their time would better served than being attacked by a left wing zealot for the amusement of the few hundred thousand of maddows followers.

  8. I couldn’t be happier for Lawrence, and selfishly me! He is the only one I ever see smack down Pat Buchanan when he tries to spin the conversation to suit his argument. Lawrence wont let him get away with it and it’s simply delicious to witness!!!
    I hope he gets a show on Friday nights also.

  9. Then stick to Faux then. MSNBC is for progressive values. Democrats for the most part embrace Liberals and progressive values. Also, this isn’t the big election to most Americans, so don’t get too psyched just because more Republicans show up at the polls than Democrats. There are 20 million more Democrats than Republicans. Obama will win again in 2012.

  10. I’m no expert but I believe that MSNBC has got to be the masters of the attack interview. Their host will jump thru any hoop nessesary to try and get a guest of the opposing viewpoint to admit that they haven’t stopped beating their spouse. IMO attack interviews only attract the far ends of the political spectrum.

    As far as being more fact vs opinion based is a stretch the Lou Dobbs/Isabel Macdonald segment pretty much cleared that up.

    for entertainment purposes only

  11. Wednesday night: Lawrence! What possessed you to dish Speaker Pelosi? Are you being mesmerized by the “young Dems”..whoever they are, or the Republicans…. or do you really believe a “fresh face’ will lead to a rapport with the likes of the Republicans?
    Who, among the Democrats has the balls Pelosi has shown? Why were you so insistent in having two “old-timers” suggest they could be disloyal to Pelosi and disrepectful of all she has achieved? Did you catch Rachel’s show with its long list (100)0f achievements Nancy Pelosi delivered to the Nation?

    Have you no shame?

    Rachmael, San Francisco
    Grateful to have you in the good company of Keith, Rachel,—and a sometime Chris.

  12. I really want Lawrence O’Donnell and Rachel Maddow to take their two hours sometime this month and host a special: Presidential Re-election Strategy Event. I want people like Michael Moore and Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks (currently seen on MSNBC Live, Dylan Ratigan show and Ed Show) to school the Establishment Dems on how not to embarrass themselves in 2012. I guarantee bonanza ratings.

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