Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” which trails CNN’s “New Day.” Credit MSNBC
“Morning Joe,” MSNBC’s signature morning program, scored its second-lowest quarterly ratings, reaching an average of just 87,000 viewers in the key news demographic group.
And “Ronan Farrow Daily,” the network’s heavily promoted new afternoon show, which stars a 26-year-old Rhodes Scholar with a high-profile Hollywood lineage, has been largely a dud.
Though it has mostly happened quietly, which may be a comment on the cable network’s larger status in the media landscape, MSNBC has seen its ratings hit one of the deepest skids in its history, with the recently completed third quarter of 2014 generating some record lows.
In the past, MSNBC’s ratings have typically fallen during times of intensely followed major news events. The current period is awash in them, with stories like ISIS and Ebola commanding a high degree of international reporting. This plays well to CNN’s strengths.
MSNBC consciously established its brand as politics-centric, approaching stories from a left-of-center viewpoint, in deliberate contrast to the right-of-center approach of Fox News, which continues to dominate the news channel ratings. At the same time, MSNBC moved away from a close relationship with NBC News that it had during the early years of the network. Today, fewer NBC News correspondents appear on MSNBC.
Mr. Griffin said that a general apathy about American politics has also hurt the network. “You can look at the dysfunction in Washington, the wariness about politics, the low approval ratings,” he said. “That’s had an impact. But we’ve got to adjust; we’ve got to evolve.”
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.
More worrying is the slide for “Morning Joe,” which has, for much of its time on the air, enjoyed status as one of the most talked-about shows in media industry circles. Now the heat around the show seems to have dissipated. For four straight months, and six of the last eight, “Morning Joe” has trailed CNN’s new morning entry, “New Day.”
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