MSNBC has screwed things up so badly with their viewers that the network now has its lowest ratings since October 2007.
According to TVNewser:
Compared to the same month last year, MSNBC was down -12% in total viewers and -19% in A25-54 viewers in total day. In primetime, the network was down -10% and -26%, respectively.
“Morning Joe” slipped to third among the cable news morning shows in April, delivering its lowest-rated month in total viewers since December 2009.
All three of MSNBC’s primetime shows were down across the board compared to April 2013: “All In with Chris Hayes” was down -7% in total viewers and -27% in the demo, “The Rachel Maddow Show” was down -4% in total viewers and -32% in the demo, and “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” was down -19% and -33%, respectively.
MSNBC has several problems. The decline of Morning Joe was predictable, as many regular viewers of the network find Scarborough’s unabashed support of the Republican Party intolerable. Once CNN put together a watchable morning show, it was logical that the “Scarborough hostages” who felt like they had nowhere else to go would change the channel.
The Lean Forward network can’t claim to be wonky and liberal, and also feature an early morning block (Morning Joe and The Daily Rundown) that is sympathetic to Republicans. That’s just bad branding, and even worse programming.
MSNBC decided that they were going to be “liberal and nerdy,” as Michael Smerconish put it, without asking their viewers.
Liberal and nerdy has been an absolute debacle. It turns out that the only liberal nerd that viewers want to watch on MSNBC is Rachel Maddow. Chris Hayes’ show is drawing a laughable 500,000+ viewers a night. Often, the non-nerd shows that air before Hayes are drawing more viewers. The Ed Show, Politcs Nation, and Hardball all do better than All In.
The powers in charge of MSNBC have gone out of their way to alienate viewers. Many viewers have not forgiven the way that Phil Griffin treated Keith Olbermann. Those bad feelings towards MSNBC management were revived when Ed Schultz was banished to weekends, and the network caved to Sarah Palin while quietly getting rid of Martin Bashir.
It was a colossally dumb move to go liberal nerd, when the average of an MSNBC viewer is 55. MSNBC is also the highest rated cable news network among African Americans. The MSNBC audience was never liberal nerd, and by demoting or dropping the favorite hosts of the audience, the network pushed away the loyal viewers that had helped MSNBC grow. The cumulative impact of these decisions has been a lot of viewer resentment and ill will. Viewer unhappiness is manifesting itself in the ratings.
The network is losing money, and without some radical programming changes, we could be witnessing the slow demise of MSNBC.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association