No, Mark Joyella…MSNBC Dropping Ronan Farrow Was Not A Mistake…

TVNewser’s Mark Joyella writes a silly article about MSNBC’s ratings at 1pm still sucking wind after Ronan Farrow’s show got cancelled.

MSNBC announced on February 19 it would cancel Farrow’s show and The Reid Report, hosted by Joy Reid. The network replaced both shows with a two-hour block of news, anchored by Thomas Roberts, and in the first few weeks, ratings looked good–increasing 37% compared to Ronan Farrow Daily.

While much of the media coverage at the time focused on Farrow, describing him as an inexperienced cable news newcomer, a review of Nielsen data shows removing him hasn’t done much to fix the dayside problem for MSNBC.

Nor would removing Farrow and Reid single handedly reverse trajectory significantly for the network because that is not what ails it. As I wrote recently MSNBC is facing significant downward ratings pressure that is just as much about perception as it is tune out and that the network is facing the cable news ratings equivalent of a bank run, particularly in dayside.

The problem is Phil Griffin still hasn’t thrown in the towel on POV analysis and using progressive programming in its rundown and the viewers know it…or at the very least still believe it to be true. MSNBC has not yet been able to claw back the meme that dayside is for news. These things take time. A lot of time…especially when MSNBC’s programming is still schizoid as it puts non-news people in positions traditionally held by news people.

Just this week, partisan pundit Amy Holmes has been filling in on Way Too Early, a position that previously had been anchored by people from the news division. So the mixed messages are still being sent out by Team Griffin.

But the ultimate joke here is that Joyella is positing the question that because Roberts’ numbers are as bad as Farrow’s were at the end of his run does that mean Farrow shouldn’t have removed? Of course not. Farrow’s problems that got his show cancelled are still as valid today as they were then. Whatever problems Roberts’ two hour block may be having, they have no direct connection to Farrow’s departure. Or at the very least Joyella has failed to make any convincing argument of any linkage.

10 Responses to “No, Mark Joyella…MSNBC Dropping Ronan Farrow Was Not A Mistake…”

  1. Have you watched Farrow’s show more than 10 mins? His perceived rating woe was no worse than other daytime hosts. His failure was more about the perception than the actual content of his show or his reporting/hosting skill.

  2. I agree Daisy. Spud’s dislike for Farrow and POV journalism, in general on cable news, is well documented here. Ratings only matter when they back the opinion your making.

    I watch very little cable news at the moment – although it’s on as background most of the day at my house. Roberts is OK and his show is pretty much what standard Dayside fare is today – boring. Andrea Mitchell is the only one left on MSNBC Dayside that I watch on occasion.

    Spud may be right and POV journalism has now run it’s course on cable news. But if so going back to the old CNN (2000-2010) model of news delivery isn’t the answer to the ratings woes.

  3. […] MSNBC hasn’t really moved that far from opinion […]

  4. Spud’s dislike for Farrow and POV journalism, in general on cable news, is well documented here.

    Of course it is and I own that and stand by it. Farrow lacked TV presence. Sure he’s intelligent but was he really deserving of a shot on cable news when he was essentially an unknown until this out of nowhere PR campaign in the New York press started getting his name in the paper for something other than the question of whose son he was? He was anointed by Phil Griffin as having “it”. Well when his show debuted…”it” wasn’t enough.

    He and his show were badly miscast on dayside. Like Hayes’ and Reid’s shows…that kind of deep dive TV does not play well on cable news dayside (or in Hayes’ case 8pm). And yeah…I did watch it for more than 10 minutes. I suspect Farrow would have done better on PBS or NPR where that kind of programming is more readily accepted.

    The other thing that worked against Farrow was the monotone of MSNBC’s programming. Farrow, Reid, Wagner, Hayes, Maddow…essentially interchangeable cogs. Why watch most or all of them when you can watch just one to get most of the same thing? You’re going to gravitate to the one who has the best personality and flare for TV. In this case that’s Maddow.

    Spud may be right and POV journalism has now run it’s course on cable news.

    I wouldn’t make that kind of generalization argument. I’m not sure POV analysis is dead. It’s sure not dead on Fox. But it seems pretty clear that Phil Griffin’s idea for POV analysis based on relatively unkown intelligent hosts doesn’t work. MSNBC’s ratings decline shows it’s not working. Interesting that you cite Mitchell’s show as that’s the one show on dayside that can bring in heavy hitter guests on a regular basis. That at least gives her show a differentiator. It’s one thing Roberts’ two hour block doesn’t have. I suspect Roberts is going to lose one of those hours pretty soon. Two hours straight of newswheel anchored by one person is a dying format on cable news. FNC has only one of those I believe (9-11). CNN has two (Costello and Baldwin’s shows…and it’s an open question how much longer Costello gets two hours…though the pressure is off Zucker to make a sudden move due to MSNBC’s woes).

  5. Like Spud says, Griffin hasn’t thrown in the towel. While they put Roberts on from 1pm-3pm, other shows are becoming more partisan.

    I watched NewsNation a few times recently and it has become almost a spin-off of Melissa Harris-Perry’s show in a way… combining pop culture with social and civil rights issues.

    I can’t believe Chris Hayes is still on primetime. I still think his show, which is an hour long festival of boredom that rivals a NASCAR race at Indianapolis, is the single biggest problem at MSNBC. And I can’t believe Sharpton’s still on either.

    As for Alex Wagner, I’ve said for a while now that they should try her out at 8pm. She has all the charm and charisma that Chris Hayes does not and will never have.

    And give Abby her own show.

  6. Roberts’ show is more watchable than Farrow and Reid’s shows were but they don’t know how not to be a POV channel with Griffin running the channel. They have a lot of work to do.

  7. […] over at Inside Cable News made some interesting points yesterday about MSNBC’s replacing Ronan Farrow with Thomas […]

  8. “Farrow, Reid, Wagner, Hayes, Maddow…essentially interchangeable cogs.”

    ^^With the first three you may be right. Dayside has a formula and hosts that don’t fit in that mold don’t succeed. Tamron Hall is the perfect Dayside host. But with Hayes and Maddow I think you’re mostly wrong. They do cover the big story of the day in a similar fashion but much of the focus of the rest of their shows is different. Maddow does a lot of small political stories that other shows don’t cover while Hayes deals with a lot of social issues like prison reform.

    Hayes will never be a great performer as host but his show’s content is often very compelling.

    “He and his show were badly miscast on dayside…. I suspect Farrow would have done better on PBS or NPR”

    ^^I agree. Most of his critics never got past his looks and CV. After a slow start, Farrow was developing into a good host and is certainly as good as his replacement. I do expect a network, like PBS/NPR, where policy knowledge and not a host’s appearance matter, will make use of his many talents.

    I think Reid was OK as a host but she never grew as a performer like Farrow.

  9. Tamron Hall’s show is unwatchable… and it’s really just become that way in the last couple months.

    Every time I watch, the entire second half is devoted to entwining pop culture and progressive social issues. It’s a spin-off of Melissa Harris-Perry’s show, which is also very hard to watch. I find it ironic, for about two years, Tamron Hall’s show was the only one that was perceived as a news show and now, it’s the only show on dayside that isn’t news. The Rundown, Andrea Mitchell, Live with Thomas Roberts and The Cycle all do news.

  10. savefarris Says:

    MSNBC has reached AirAmerica status.

    They are who they are, they’re not changing, no one watches/listens, and the only reason they stay on the air is the parent company’s ability/willingness to lose money for the sake of “the movement”.

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