In Depth: More Changes Coming to MSNBC Dayside?

Lost in the news of MSNBC’s ratings win over CNN in Primetime was a stunning set of figures supplied by CNN

In March, in total day, CNN averaged 638K total viewers, a 43% advantage over MSNBC’s average of 446K. FNC had 1.216 million total viewers. Additionally, CNN has a +16% lead over MSNBC (195K vs. 168K) among P25-54 in total day.

Why is this stunning? Because MSNBC beat CNN in Primetime (8-11) in P2+ and the Demo and beat CNN in the Morning Demo (6-9). According to CNN’s figures in M-S primetime CNN eeked out a victory in the Demo.

And yet in Total Day MSNBC lost to CNN by 16% in the Demo and lost handily in Total Viewers. Here’s another aspect in the CNN/MSNBC ratings competition. According to information relayed to me by the people at TV by the Numbers, last week (3/23-3/29) across all shows and day parts MSNBC had 38 airings that averaged 500,000 viewers or more. CNN had 110. CNN killed MSNBC by a nearly 3:1 ratio.

The question is where in the schedule is MSNBC bleeding viewers like that? They won from 6-9am and 8-11pm, and if you throw in MSNBC’s “Sales Prime” stat, which is internal only to MSNBC and not a metric used by CNN or FNC, they won in the Demo from 7pm-2am (251,000 vs. 248,000).

This leaves two spots where MSNBC lost enough viewers that CNN was able to beat it in Total Day: 3-6 am and 9-7pm.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to tell for sure because cable nets, inexplicably, don’t break out those time periods publicly. I’ve never understood this because they’re supposed to be news networks and dayside news nominally airs from 9am-5pm (or 9-4 in the case of FNC) but they don’t talk about how many people tune in for what it is these nets are supposed to be about.

Be that as it may, I think we can assume that it’s Dayside and the early evening that’s the ratings drain. First of all 3-6 am couldn’t possibly generate enough eyeballs for the Demo to swing CNN’s way in Total Day. Second, there is some evidence to suggest that Dayside is the problem. The evidence? A series of moves being made by MSNBC…

– The need for a new Executive Editor to oversee Dayside news coverage, something that was already being handled by Shannon High-Bassalik.
– The hiring of Carlos Watson as a full-time anchor.
– Today’s schedule changes announcement which brings in Ed Schultz at 6pm, moves Norah O’Donnell off of the timeslot she’s occupied for a couple of years now, and puts Tamron Hall and David Shuster together from 3-5pm. No mention of where O’Donnell will land or the future of the “3 anchors” format, which Hall had been a part of, from 9-1pm.

You don’t make moves like this if things are going well. You make moves like this if things aren’t going well. I suspect these aren’t the last changes we’ll be seeing.


8 Responses to “In Depth: More Changes Coming to MSNBC Dayside?”

  1. joeremi Says:

    This is the one area where CNN’s reputation for straight news works for them. CNN dayside is straight up the middle and has gravitas. MSNBC’s dayside is all over the map, with Andrea Mitchell’s inability to speak; Tamron Hall’s shouting, giggling and interrupting; and David Shuster’s inability to not be an opinionated jerk.

  2. The Place for Politics gets repetitive in less time than it takes a channel surfer to go from Morning Joe to Hardball.

  3. louiszerr Says:

    MSNBC needs a bold make over to its daytime. They need to bring in some big names from outside to anchor the daytime news. Names like Laurie Duhe or Brigitte Quinn. Yes I know that they worked at MSNBC before but now they come in with a large following gainged on FOX. MSNBC needs to steal away some anchor from another network.

  4. No chance. Not with the current mindset of keeping costs down. They simply won’t sink in that kind of money on a talent for dayside, particularly if it’s a name. I agree that this is losing strategy but they think they can get away with it. Until they finally realize they can’t, nothing is going to change.

  5. And honestly, Dhue or Quinn wouldn’t be my first choice. Or my second. Or fifth. Or tenth. I want someone with more gravitas.

  6. chipsohio Says:

    Spud, if you were given the opportunity to “reprogram” MSNBC Dayside & you had to deal with the budget limitations…What would you do & who would you keep, fire, or hire?

  7. My days of playing armchair GM are long over. After what I’ve learned over the years, I’ve come to realize it’s not so simple an issue as just reprogramming MSNBC or changing talent.

    I would however complain loudly about the budget limitations. NBC News is immensely profitable and has been for a long time. And yet despite that they’ve been forced to trim the budget just about every year for the past few years. That’s insane. It all points back to the top…to Jeff Zucker…and how NBC Entertainment and its financial stumbles has become a major drain on the news division.

  8. kids ceiling fans…

    […]In Depth: More Changes Coming to MSNBC Dayside? « Inside Cable News[…]…

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