The PJ Tatler

MSNBC's Ratings Free-Fall Prompts Discussions of a Shakeup

They miss Olbermann.

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.

Network President Phil Griffin knows MSNBC needs to turn those numbers around quickly, and multiple insiders tell TheWrap Griffin is in the process of deciding what potential changes to make, including tinkering with primetime.

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.

MSNBC is a lot like the current administration it so admires: every time someone awful leaves, someone worse is found as a replacement.

A key component in its struggle is the fact that the network’s executives and on-air talent are blissfully unaware of the fact that progressivism is still a fringe ideology in America. The little bump they enjoyed was due to a combination of the unsustainable emotional high of the early Obama years and the CNN’s floundering. CNN may not be what it was twenty years ago, but it has made some slight improvements in the past couple of years.

Jeff Zucker seems genuinely interested in restoring the CNN brand, while Phil Griffin seems to be merely creating programming that he and his friends enjoy:

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.

That this niche network is still supported by the parent company is also indicative of just how left-leaning NBC as a whole is.