It has been a rough month for MSNBC, but the network did get one piece of good news. The Rachel Maddow show was the most watched non-Fox show in February.
According to TVNewser’s rankings:
The Five,” “The Kelly File,” “Special Report w/ Bret Baier” and “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren” join O’Reilly in the Top 5 cable news programs in both total viewers and the demo. Baier ranks No. 4 in both categories and is the only nightly news program to be ranked in the Top 5.
The highest-rated show in the demo that isn’t on FNC is CNBC’s “Shark Tank,” which lands at No. 8 on he list. CNN’s highest-rated show among the key demo is “Anderson Cooper 360,” coming in at No. 15. The “Rachel Maddow Show” is MSNBC’s top-rated program in the demo, averaging 143K viewers and finishing No. 26. However in total viewers, Maddow ranks No. 15, the highest-rated non-FNC program.
MSNBC is a network in transition. The Lean Forward network is beginning to clean out low rated shows. The rumor has been swirling for months that Rachel Maddow is going to move to 8 PM to replace the failing Chris Hayes experiment. The rankings show why it would be smart for MSNBC to move Maddow up an hour. MSNBC’s two strongest programs in terms of total viewers are Hardball and The Rachel Maddow Show. By putting the two programs together, MSNBC could have something to build a new lineup around.
Maddow still can draw viewers to MSNBC. The problem is that she has been surrounded by poorly viewed shows. When Keith Olbermann occupied the 8 PM slot, viewers hung around for Maddow after watching Olbermann. The problem with the current lineup is that viewers aren’t tuning into Chris Hayes, so viewers turn off MSNBC and don’t come back for Rachel Maddow at 9 PM. There is a place for Chris Hayes on MSNBC, but it isn’t on primetime weeknights.
Fox News is dominant because they retain their audience. Viewers turn on Fox News and watch for hours. The opposite is happening at MSNBC. There isn’t any build up as a lead in for Maddow. There is a liberal audience for cable news. Rachel Maddow’s viewership is still there. MSNBC needs to do a better job of surrounding her with the kind of shows that more of their viewers want to watch.