Rachel Maddow’s Show Is Sinking Because MSNBC Refuses To Listen To Their Viewers

Rachel Maddow gerrymandering in Virginia

MSNBC’s bad decisions continue to bite them in the backsides, as the network has fallen behind CNN in the ratings. Even worse, Rachel Maddow is delivering the lowest ratings in the history of her show.

The details from Bill Carter at The New York Times,

MSNBC’s recent results have not been encouraging. During the third quarter, Ms. Maddow reached an average of 183,000 viewers in the audience component that most matters to MSNBC’s advertisers, viewers between the ages of 25 and 54, her lowest total since she started her show in 2008.

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The executive, who asked not to be identified because of potential future business with MSNBC, said Ms. Maddow remains a draw, but her format has grown tired. “In terms of Rachel, everybody knows every night what she’s going to say,” he said. “The network just doesn’t surprise you.”


The network’s newest prime-time host, Chris Hayes, also hit a low in the third quarter, averaging 129,000 viewers in the 25-54 category, his worst since his show began in the second quarter of 2013.

The impact of Chris Hayes’s inability to build a sizable audience on Maddow has been huge. Rachel Maddow’s lead in is down roughly 60% from what Keith Olbermann delivered at 8 PM. Hayes is down 20%-40% from Ed Schultz’s ratings in the same timeslot. 500,000+ viewers isn’t going to cut it. Maddow’s audience climbs at 9 PM to 700,000-800,000, but this is a far cry from the million plus viewers that used to watch her every night.

Rachel Maddow’s show has largely stuck to the same format over the last six years. Maddow has become predictable, which isn’t always a bad thing, but she is saddled with All In’s lack of an audience. I suspect there are lots of former Maddow viewers out there for whom her show is no longer appointment viewing, because they stopped watching MSNBC.

The lean forward network has consistently refused to give their audience what they want. The MSNBC audience is older, more liberal, and more Democratic that Phil Griffin wants to believe it is. The age of the average MSNBC viewer has gone from 56 to 61. Griffin’s moving of Chris Hayes to 8 PM and the hiring of Ronan Farrow were moves in the opposite direction from the network’s audience.

The Chris Hayes experiment has never worked. Hayes needs to be sent back to “Up.” Hayes excelled on “Up,” and MSNBC was a better network because of it. Maddow needs a real lead in. She needs a Keith Olbermann type at 8 PM. Her lead in should be a passionate show that balances her analytical intellectualism.

MSNBC is circling the bowl because they don’t understand their audience. Worst of all, they are wasting the talents of Rachel Maddow.

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