Variety’s Brian Steinberg writes about some MSNBC experimentation…
The cable-news outlet best known for progressive commentary from Rachel Maddow and Chris Hayes is launching a portal of streaming-video programming that its top executive, Phil Griffin, expects to have a great deal of influence on the cable network in months to come. Through the new digital initiative, known as “Shift by MSNBC,” the network will serve up new topics and introduce new contributors that could gradually make their way to the cable network, Griffin believes – depending on the traction they gain among audiences. “Shift” is expected to launch Monday morning.
“We’ve got to keep evolving,” he explained during a conversation in his office at NBCUniversal’s 30 Rockefeller Center headquarters. “We are going to broaden the aperture, but keep the sensibility. Times change and evolve. We had great success in 2006 to 2012, 2013, with our sensibility, but I think now, with the media exploding, we’ve got to adjust a little bit too, and figure out new ways to grab audiences.” Among the new offerings is “The Briefing,” a political program hosted Monday and Fridays by Luke Russert, and “Code Forward,” a discussion of issues raised by new technology, developed in partnership with the tech-news outlet Re/Code.
The launch comes as MSNBC pushes against the same headwinds rivals are facing: Cable-news ratings have over the long term sunk as viewers turn to mobile devices and digital techniques to get information about their world. Replenishing this crowd with younger viewers becomes tough when millennials and the generation behind them seem more comfortable with streaming video that does not require a subscription to a satellite or cable distributor. Last month, MSNBC saw its total viewership fall 13% and its audience in the demo most favored by advertisers in news programming — people between 25 and 54 — tumble 16%, according to Nielsen. In 2013, the network saw its primetime audience decline 24%, according to analysis from the Pew Research Journalism Project.