With viewership statistics being malleable, settling on a concrete measurement of how Williams is being accepted by the audience is difficult. From his first day at MSNBC through last week, the network’s viewership during daytime, weekday hours is up 41 percent from the same period last year, the Nielsen company said. More than Williams is new; MSNBC has completely revamped its daytime personnel and mission.
The network has averaged 390,000 viewers during that period. CNN, with 603,000 viewers, is up 21 percent, and Fox News Channel, with 1.36 million daytime viewers, is up 7 percent from 2014, Nielsen said.
The immediate wake of Paris, the biggest news story since Williams began his new assignment, starkly illustrated MSNBC’s challenge. The years where the network cultivated an image as a destination for liberal viewers (still the focus during prime-time hours), largely cost MSNBC its reputation as a place to turn for breaking news.
I think that overstates things a bit. MSNBC never had much of a rep as a place to turn to for breaking news going back well before the ideological leftward turn. That’s why CNN and FNC’s numbers would spike by a higher order of magnitude than MSNBC’s when breaking news would hit even back in 2007. You could put on the best breaking news team on MSNBC and it wouldn’t result in the kinds of payoffs the other two channels enjoy.