Hardball Replaces Rachel Maddow As MSNBC’s Highest Rated Show


The month of October has brought about a change in the ratings at MSNBC as Hardball with Chris Matthews replaced Rachel Maddow’s show as the most watched program on the network.

Hardball with Chris Matthews drew more total viewers than Maddow (726,000 to 725,000) and more younger viewers than Maddow (632,000 to 625,000). Maddow’s biggest ratings problem continues to be struggles of All In at 8 PM. The Chris Hayes program averaged just 536,000 total viewers in October. MSNBC’s 6 PM, 7PM, and 9 PM shows all had more total viewers than All In at 8 PM.

Rachel Maddow is now drawing fewer viewers at 9 PM than Anderson Cooper on CNN. Maddow spent years beating Cooper and being a solid number two behind Fox News, but her program has slipped to third in the cable news ratings, and the struggles of All In look to be the major reason why.


Primetime cable news shows tend to be habit viewing. For years, liberals, Democrats, and progressives were in the habit of tuning into Keith Olbermann/Ed Schultz at 8 PM and sticking around for Maddow at 9. The viewing habits of roughly 30%-40% of MSNBC’s former primetime audience have changed.

A recent Pew study of political polarization and media habits found that CNN is the now the preferred network of liberal and most liberal media consumers. Consistently liberal viewers listed CNN as their top main source of news. MSNBC was third behind NPR. Twenty percent of mostly liberal viewers preferred CNN over MSNBC by a margin of 20%-5%. The research from Pew suggests that liberal viewers are leaving MSNBC for CNN.

I suspect that a sizable portion of MSNBC’s primetime viewership that preferred the populist liberalism of Schultz and Olbermann left the network when Chris Hayes was promoted to 8 PM. Without making a judgment on the quality of All In as a program, the reality is that Hayes’s ratings struggles are dragging down the network’s flagship show.

Chris Matthews has a lot of loyal, long-term viewers, but he should not be drawing more viewers than Rachel Maddow. The fact that MSNBC viewers appear to be watching Hardball then skipping Chris Hayes, but coming back for Maddow is a big problem.

Chris Hayes excelled in the format and timeslot of his former show Up. His program doesn’t seem to be connecting with a number of MSNBC viewers at 8 PM.

MSNBC’s mismanagement of the timeslots around Rachel Maddow is almost criminal. Until the network listens to what their viewers want, Maddow’s rating will continue to be a reflection of the poorly run nature of MSNBC.

46 Replies to “Hardball Replaces Rachel Maddow As MSNBC’s Highest Rated Show”

  1. That’s not good. Last few times I watched Matthews, I nearly chocked! He was using Republican talking points, not good at all

  2. Stopped watching Chris Hayes due to anti Israel bias in his reporting of Gaza. When the left stops bashing Israel, I’ll be back.

  3. I caught a bit of Rachel, just last evening. It seems she was before a small studio audience. The applause was juvenile. The setting was undignified.

    Because I am not a regular viewer I cannot say whether this is some sort of trial setting, or the real McCoy.

    I hated it.

  4. This is a crock of shit….Chris has no manners and interrupts everyone!!!…he is Right leaning Democrat!!!

  5. What a crock of shit….Mathews is an ill mannered right leaning Democrat…..he interrupts everyone….rarely watch his show….LOVE Rachel tho!!!!

  6. I like Rachel, but I often miss her show because it comes on late in CO and I’m watching prime time tv shows like Scandal, etc.

    Chris Mathews is annoying. I don’t mind Chris Hayes, although his eye makeup is distracting.

  7. Chris Matthews is who drove me away from NBC. He was the final straw. The man is a total idiot and has absolutely no idea of what an interview is.

    As for Chris Hayes, I don’t watch his show because I don’t watch television news anymore, but what I have seen of him I really liked. He is very knowledgeable. And it’s really too bad.

    I never watched any of the MSNBC late shows like Rachel. By that time of day I am so politic out that I could care less who was on.

    Wolf Blitzer and Chris Matthews. The two people who drove me out of television news. I can’t stand either one of them

  8. Anyone ever heard of recording shows to watch whenever you choose?!! I watch Rachael, Lawrence, and Ed I sure miss Keith !!!!!!!!

  9. The Republicans are probably watching his meltdown every night for laughs.

    He is hysterical most of the time.

  10. Love Rachel. Have to get updates on line as I can no longer afford cable.

    I think many viewers have dumped cable. Cable prices keep going up and wages are not.

    Wish I could see Rachel on the over the air stations.

  11. Rachael Maddow is amazing and I record her if I’m watching something else. And like someone else commented by 8 ct I am wiped out with politics. I would like to see Rachael on earlier. She presents a professorial outlook on the news. I feel like I learned something after her show. Come on MSNBC get it together.

  12. I am really sorry to see this happening.

    I like Chris Hayes, he was the only one that allowed me to understand what caused the Great Recession and all it’s underlying causes. As for his anti-semitism (which I doubt), maybe he understand more fully that desperate people will do desperate things.

    Never could stand Mathews. He is loud, abusive, and talks too fast. Never allowing anyone who disagrees with him to even finish a sentence. And when he gets excited, he drools. NOT a pretty sight.

    I like ED although sometimes he can go a teeny bit too far to the left. But, heck, he is a progressives progressive and thats ok too

    Of them all, Rachel is the best and deserves better than this. I admire her more than I can say.

    As far as I am concerned MSNBC is to blame for this. What were they thinking putting Todd and Scarborough in charge. And now this. MSNBC will never regain their viewership at the rate they are going.

  13. Chris Matthews has been interrupting a bit less but he routinely asks and answers his own questions, leaving the ‘guests’ as mere props. I have watched in amazement as he talked over his guests finally running out of time for the segment and inviting them back! Chris Hayes is that high-strung know-it-all from debate class, every since he was lampooned at the White House Press Dinner as “That Lesbian on MSNBC… Chris Hayes” he has been trying to ‘macho up’ his schtick but he’s just the wrong vibe for that block. Yank Chris Hayes, he belongs on daytime. Rachael Maddow seems to be auditioning as the new David Letterman, with her flinging the question cards toward the camera, mixing drinks on air, she’s turned into more of a stand-up comedian than news anchor, so don’t blame poor chicken little Chris Hayes, Rachael has been goofing off and is in no small part responsible for her own ratings slip. Don’t act like everyone ‘cool’ is in on the joke Rachael, your job is to present…

  14. Since the last presidential election CNN and MSNBC have become “entertainment” channels. Rachael is good when she actually reports on something, but the bartender schtick is really bad. Chris Mathews sometimes seems to forget whether he’s a liberal or a conservative. I’m not too interested in the prison shows either.

  15. Another thing they are not taking into account is Free Speech TV. Since Thom Hartmann and Stephanie Miller came on I turn to that station sometimes if Rachel reports the same stories that have been reported in the other MSNBC shows. Rachel does the best when she does her thing and not follow the others.

    She still is the best and I can’t stand watching Chris Matthews mr Rethuglican lite.

    1000 less viewers wow that is such a slide…..not!

  16. I disagree that MSNBC’s “mismanagement of the timeslots around Rachel Maddow is almost criminal.” My opinion is that Rachel is responsible for her ratings decline. She lost me during her nightly coverage of Bridgegate. I’m not a fan of Chris Christie by any means, but nightly coverage, often for the full hour, was too much. I decided I had to take a break. During that time I discovered other liberal/progressive outlets both on tv and online. Not all that long ago I turned back to Rachel thinking she would have something significant to say regarding Israel/Gaza. Not one word from her, something she was widely criticized for, as she should have been. I tried to watch again last week and found that the show that I once loved and never missed is unwatchable, for me anyway. What is with the “game show” on Friday night? For my money what she now presents is one long condescending lecture where she constantly repeats herself, the rest is juvenile and schtick.

  17. It’s obvious what MSNBC President Phil Griffin should do: have Hardball and All In switch places.
    The fact that Liberals and Progressives are leaving MSNBC for CNN is concerning, as CNN went from being somewhat good in February 2012 to being Fox “News” Lite and then, earlier this year, going for more sensational news with a Libertarian bent.

  18. I don’t turn the TV on until Up with Chris Hayes comes on then I watch Rachel and then McDonnell….. Some of the most intelligent TV available. Use to like Chris M. 10 yrs ago but not now. May folks just like the dumped down stuff with yelling and talking over each other but I don’t.

  19. I don’t watch her because NBC -Mnbc taken over by trolls scarboro and todd; rachel is a detailed liberal too smart for the American bumpkin voters they don’t want long detailed correct answers they want sensationalism.

  20. We want the network restored to what it was. Hardball, The Ed Show and Rachel Maddow Show. I can’t stand the Chris Hayes show, get rid of him and his show. Until this is fixed, I will no longer watch MSNBC.

  21. I left MSNBC when they fired/ let him resign Martin Bashir over the Sarah Palin crap sandwich. I saw NOTHING wrong with what he said. Guess wittle Sarwha got her wittle feelings hurt so she went on her social media page and gave her flying monkeys marching orders to demand the head of Bashir. That is one woman that I can’t wait for Karma to pay a big overdue visit.
    And then there’s that Ronan Farrow character! Sheesh! I could do a better job of finding talent than that!

  22. Due to a very rude commercial I’ve had to use my remote during Maddow’s show. (p c m a t i c ) – I wroth MSNBC tonight. She’s the only one I regularly viewed.

  23. D I S H: “CNN has been removed by Turner” … MSNBC is what’s playing on what was CNN in my neck of the woods.

  24. Things are what they are. And to talk about facts isn’t bashing. That label is what is being counted on as we are led farther and farther down the path. Decent Jewish people understand that. Just like decent Christians understand Christianity has nothing at all to do with right wing conservatives.

  25. I am with you most of the way. We have to remember what the MS stands for and certainly what the NBC part is. I despise Morning Joe. And Matthews. Hate his whole show. The rudeness and his loud opinions.
    I can’t imagine any circumstance that I would willingly watch CNN. I got a belly full of that during GWB days.
    I like Chris OK, and Steve. And especially Rachael. But the truth is while they are allowed a little more leeway they are still controlled by the same MSM thing that hobbles all the news we are allowed to know. Todd being on MSNBC was the tipping point and I just got out of the habit of watching the entire channel. I am just not a very good Sheeple. The half glossed over truth is still a lie as far as I am concerned.

  26. Since its the 51st state it can do as it pleases and if you say anything about Israel’s precious bodily fluids you will be known as a Jew hater

  27. This is very articulate and reflects my sentiments exactly.
    I thought Joe Scarborough was bad, but Chuck Todd is completing the destruction of MSNBC. Any time those two or David Gregory appear on any show, I immediately change channels for the remainder of the hour. Thank God I still have Comedy Central and Free Speech TV is available for news and entertainment.

  28. Jenny, excellent point about Martin Bashir. Add to that, Chuck Todd experienced no repercussions for his inappropriate comments about Alison Grimes Lundegren “disqualification” as a Senatorial Candidate for not answering a question the way he liked. No wonder Liberals and Progressives no longer watch. Our preferred shows are eliminated or moved for unfathomable reasons. Current TV had some very good shows. They were missed opportunities for MSN.

  29. Do not ever forget that the so called liberal MSNBC fired Phil Donohue because he told the truth about Bush the destroyer invasion of Iraq.

  30. Who did this survey? Chris Matthews, the spitting machine? Ranks ahead of Rachel? I go to MSNBC only to watch Rachel and her kickass show. I do not like Matthews or Chris Hayes. Bring back Keith Olberman for the time slot just ahead of Rachel!!!

  31. The Comcast network doesn’t pay attention to what its viewership wants?

    Just like we don’t need much less want gigabit internet speeds?

  32. I can’t stand Chris Matthews interrupting people, that’s downright rude! I love Rachel but don’t watch much anymore because she is just rehashing what is the topic of the week. All day they just keep repeating the same news item. If I watch one show in the morning I’ve seen everything MSNBC is going to have on for the rest of the day. Most of the time it’s the news item of the week – or two weeks – they just keep rehashing the same item. There is plenty of news going on all over the world, I want to hear some of that. I wish they would give Rachel free reign to report on anything she wants. Lawrence O’Donnel too. Dump Chuck Todd and Joe Scarborough and bring back Ed Shultz.

  33. I agree. Several of these guys, kornacki too, take an anti Israel view. They are also anti Hillary, and press for warren or sanders, just not going to happen. And, I happen to be pro Hillary. Despite Mathews hammering her in 2008, he seems to be pro this time around. Mathews is my favorite show overall, although he can be a royal pain in the arse, a bit bipolar, and interrupts too often. The show is more interesting though overall. Maddow, Hayes pretty much sing the same tune, I think it’s somewhat generational.

  34. Yeah Rachel used to be good, but I have to say I get tired of them all after a hike. Ed Schultz is nothing but a repub in disguise. He is supposed to be a real jerk, and was until recently a right winger. He is good on labor though, and tha is a plus. The younger set are all pretty much bpclones on the issues, anti Hillary, and pro warren and Bernie. I like them too but it is way too naive. No one is getting close to the WH without ties to corporate America. And we tried Obama who Walsall new and changeyour, and look how tha turned out. He screwed type party, ANC only cared about his own brand. Time we ha someone who knows how to work d.

  35. Glad to know I’m not alone in disliking Chris Hayes. He’s just robotic and comes off as a smug hipster doofus, whose every other word is “right?”, as if he needs constant affirmation. Annoying as heck. They should move Alex Wagner into his slot.

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