After Fox News decided to shuffle their lineup in the evenings, including moving Megyn Kelly into prime time, the buzz began over how it would impact their ratings. Having been so completely dominant in that market for so long, why mess with a winning formula, right? Well, they went ahead with the plan, and with the exception of Monday, Kelly completely dominated Rachel Maddow. This got the head of MSNBC in such a flustered state that he wants an investigation.
Phil Griffin, president of MSNBC, says there’s something fishy about Tuesday’s ratings for the Fox News Channel, which were up significantly from a day earlier when Fox News debuted its new schedule. And he wants an investigation.
“Monday we had a really good day in the key demographic. On the night that Fox News debuted their three shows, we either tied or beat them in those hours,” Griffin said at a briefing, according to TVNewser.
“Tuesday — you guys should be doing some investigations; I have never seen it in all my years of cable — same overnight, same everything. And they doubled their ratings in a day? It is impossible.” Griffin continued, “I have never seen it. They did election-night numbers in the demo Tuesday.”
The Nielsen numbers Griffin refers to include MSNBC beating Fox News on Monday in the adults 25-54 demographic at 7 p.m. and tying Fox News at 10 p.m.
Now, admittedly I don’t work in the television industry, but these numbers really don’t look all that strange to me. On the first night of the show, The Kelly File lost to Maddow by 10,000 viewers – essentially a tie. On the second night, Tuesday, Kelly shot up to a 573,000 to 261,000 victory over MSNBC. On Wednesday and Thursday, Kelly tapered back to 384,000 and 376,000 while Maddow got 291,000 and 288,000 respectively. Is any of that really “shocking” to anybody? On the very first night that a new show launches, people might not even know about it yet. If they aren’t used to tuning in at that hour and didn’t happen to catch any promos, you might expect the first show’s numbers to be on the weak side. But as soon as it does launch and everyone is talking about it, you might see a big surge, including people who might not normally be watching a cable news network at that hour, just to see what’s up with all of the buzz. And then the numbers seemed to settle into a fairly typical spread, with Fox beating MSNBC by a roughly 25% margin – again, not really that unusual.
Does this merit an investigation into Nielsen, and to what point? They’ve been doing this for a very long time now, and while that’s not to say that they won’t run into the occasional aberration, they tend to be fairly spot on. What possible motive could they have to intentionally jig Fox’s numbers which would justify the inevitable backlash against them if they were found out? This sounds like some deliciously sour grapes on the part of Griffin to me, as opposed to some sort of conspiracy against Maddow.