According to the Wrap there are going to major changes at MSNBC and “everything is on the table.” Well not everything, I doubt highly the will remove racial agitator Al Sharpton from his slot, he got his job as a “condition” for the NBC/Comcast merger. But everything else on the table.
Why? Ratings have really tanked. “When President Obama was reelected in 2012, MSNBC was “leaning forward” and smiling wide as Obama 2.0 propelled it to record ratings and a firm grasp on the No. 2 spot in cable news. Over two years later, the network has fallen backwards. January ratings revealed double-digit declines compared with January, 2014 in all ratings measurements. During the day, MSNBC was down 20 percent in viewers and 37 percent in the advertising-coveted 25-54 demo. In primetime, it fell 23 percent in viewers and 39 percent in demo.”
Because of the slide, MSNBC President Phil Griffin knows MSNBC needs to turn those numbers around quickly or he will be ousted.
One well-placed insider told TheWrap that the ratings-challenged “All In” with Chris Hayes — airing in the cable news sweet spot of 8 p.m. ET — might get uprooted for a different timeslot. It’s not clear who will replace Hayes in the event that he gets yanked from 8 p.m., but since Keith Olbermann’s 2011 exit, MSNBC has filled the all-important timeslot with internal talent rather than seeking hosts from the outside.
Hayes, whose show will hit the two-year mark at in April, has never been able to hold or grow the audience his predecessor, Ed Schultz, had. Hayes offers a blend of opinion and deeply-reported stories on” All In,” eschewing the traditional role of bomb thrower in primetime. That approach worked on the weekends, where Hayes debuted for MSNBC in 2011, drawing strong ratings as host of the breakfast roundtable “Up.”
But there are many more programming options during the week. “In January, he [Hayes] finished third behind Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor” and CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360″ in both total viewers and the demo.” And that’s only because there are only two cable news networks for him to lose to.
Hayes low ratings have dragged down the rest of the prime time lineup. “Maddow’s 9 p.m. program has also slumped partly due to its weaker lead-in. In January, “The Rachel Maddow Show” was down 50 percent in the demo year over year.”
Then there is the failed daytime lineup.
“Ronan [Farrow] and Joy [Reid] — something has to change there,” another insider told TheWrap, adding that many within MSNBC believe one of the two — Farrow at 1 p.m. Reid at 2 p.m. — will see their shows canceled soon. The duo, who debuted on Feb. 24, 2014, have been major contributors to MSNBC’s daytime woes.
To be honest, I hope they don’t cancel Joy Reid, because she will blame it on the Jooos, like she blames almost everything else.
MSNBC’s other programming problem appears to be Griffin himself, whom multiple insiders told TheWrap is too attached to the hosts he’s selected and the shows they’ve developed, including Farrow, Reid, Hayes and Alex Wagner, who hosts “Now” at 4 p.m. ET.
Wagner’s show has struggled since moving from the noon slot to replace Martin Bashir a year ago. “Now” routinely attracts demo numbers south of 100,000 viewers; on the day of the State of the Union address, it attracted just 26,000 demo viewers.
But it’s doubtful her show will be affected, one insider says, because Wagner is one of Griffin’s “favorites.”
“It’s stubbornness,” another insider told TheWrap about Griffin’s reluctance to axe struggling shows hosted by his handpicked talent. “There are certain shows and talent that are very much his. They were his ideas, so I think that’s where you see the least flexibility.”
(…)Another insider told TheWrap Griffin has withheld moving or canceling Hayes’ show — despite ratings that have struggled since it launched — because he’s married to the idea of younger, wonky hosts in primetime over the traditionally older, bombastic anchors who’ve occupied the daypart on Fox News and MSNBC, like Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Keith Olbermann, and Ed Schultz.
The difference is that people like O’Reilly, Hannity, and Olbermann may be bombastic but Haye’s just isn’t that smart.
Despite the ratings woes, one bright spot for MSNBC has been its digital division, which launched the online network “Shift” over a month ago. As TheWrap reported, the channel, which offers original programming from fresh faces like the New York Times’ Josh Barro, NBC News Correspondent Luke Russert and foreign correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin, has produced results for MSNBC.com. State of the Union coverage on the web saw a 130 percent increase year over year in unique visitors.
Interestingly Mohyeldin became a star with his anti-Israel and anti-US reports from the Middle East, but since he made the well-publicized attack on War Hero Chris Kyle two weeks ago, his appearances on MSNBC particularly Morning Joe where he had become a regular has been cut way back.
But TV is the mothership, and the stakes are high for MSNBC, with the ratings gold of the upcoming presidential campaign — one in which there’s no incumbent — due to spark wall-to-wall coverage across cable news. Griffin will want to give whatever programming changes he makes a grace period to take effect before the campaigns, debates and elections take place. In other words, expect to see those changes soon.