MSNBC ratings "unexpectedly" take a turn

Our friend Jim Geraghty stumbles across some numbers which may serve to take the collective temperature of the electorate more than any poll coming out of the political analysis factory. (This was also featured in the Morning Jolt, in case you’re not signed up for it yet.) In the midst of a prolonged media strike on various “wacko birds” and a general theme that conservatives were once again in trouble, there seems to be a distinct lack of interest in politics on the part of the Obama faithful.


Read the complete rankings, May 2013 versus May 2012, via Nielsen:

Total Day
FNC: 1,246,000 total viewers, up 24 percent (236,000 in 25-54, down 5 percent)
CNN: 465,000 total viewers, up 61 percent (161,000 in 25-54, up 92 percent)
MSNBC: 346,000 total viewers, down 10 percent (115,000 in 25-54, down 7 percent)
HLN: 494,000 total viewers, up 111 percent (175,000 in 25-54, up 90 percent)

FNC: 1,973,000 total viewers, up 17 percent (308,000 in 25-54, down 6 percent)
CNN: 660,000 total viewers, up 70 percent (225,000 in 25-54, up 97 percent)
MSNBC: 539,000 total viewers, down 20 percent (175,000 in 25-54, down 19 percent)
HLN: 624,000 total viewers, up 91 percent (209,000 in 25-54, up 97 percent)

There are a number of nuggets to look at here, none of which seem to fit with current media gossip lines. Fox is up again, though not by a larger margin than you might expect. CNN Headline News was up massively, but as Geraghty points out, it was largely due to their wall to wall coverage of the Jodi Arias trial which kept all the gossip columnists riveted for months. CNN was the butt of many jokes for their jumping the gun on a number of stories, particularly the Boston bombing, but they still managed a staggering jump in their numbers. (Could that be because Jake Tapper joined the crew and lent some credibility to the network in the middle ground between the day shift and the evening?)


But who did that leave to soak up the losses? Yes… MSNBC. Particularly their evening, personality driven, opinion shows.

The soft start for All In With Chris Hayes has not helped. Hayes, down 32 percent in total viewers from The Ed Show last May, has offered a poor lead-in for MSNBC’s primetime flagship, The Rachel Maddow Show, at 9 p.m. The show delivered its lowest-rated month since it debuted in September 2008 (717,000 total viewers) and its second lowest with adults 25-54 (210,000). Maddow was topped by typical time slot victor Sean Hannity and CNN’s Piers Morgan.

I’m not sure which is worse… losing to Piers Morgan or to a spinal inversion therapy infomercial, which probably garnered about the same ratings. But viewer habits can sometimes tell us more than a snapshot delivered by a polling firm which relies on people willing to sit through a phone survey during an off cycle year. As Jim notes, even some of the most liberal bloggers are taking on a decidedly Eeyore tone and wondering if the boat is springing a leak.

Ratings aren’t a perfect indicator either, of course, but it does seem to follow a pattern. Mid-term elections tend to produce low turnout for younger voters and the majority of liberal activist blocks. Or maybe the scandals in DC actually are taking a toll and disillusion is setting in. Either way, we’ll need a few more cycles to see if this is a trend or an aberration.


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Duane Patterson 10:00 PM | July 11, 2024