A prevailing narrative in cable news analysis has been the decline of MSNBC in the past year — especially as the network deals with an identity crisis in the face of two show cancellations and the realization that around-the-clock progressive commentary is not a recipe for success.
Last month, Ronan Farrow — the network’s outward attempt to court Millennial viewers — hit his lowest 25-54 demographic rating ever just one week before his and Joy Reid‘s shows were both nixed — moving newsman Thomas Roberts back into two daytime hours. Since then, MSNBC has openly touted its move towards hard news and some “changes in primetime” to help stave the decline.
But has it paid off so far?
Sure, it’s only been a month, but here’s one reason to think the situation is getting dire over at the peacock cable network: On Monday, March 30, MSNBC lost two daytime hours in the key 25-54 demographic to fledgling cable news network Al Jazeera America (AJAM).
During the 2 p.m. ET hour, AJAM’s live news hour racked up 28k in the demo, beating out Roberts’ 14k demo-garnering broadcast for MSNBC. And during the 3 p.m. ET hour, AJAM’s half hour of live news plus investigative series Fault Lines scored 21k in the demo, outpacing The Cycle‘s 18k demo rating on MSNBC.
What’s especially noteworthy about a network like AJAM beating out MSNBC for two hours is that, just 16 months ago, the Qatar-owned network was bringing in a zero demo rating during its primetime hours. And this comes as MSNBC supposedly focuses on reworking its network to compete with an overtaking CNN and an ever-dominant Fox News.
As we reported earlier today, in the first quarter of 2015, MSNBC saw a 45% decrease in primetime demo viewership, and a 39% decrease in daytime demo viewership — both year-over-year from Q1 2014. In addition, the quarter saw the network’s 6-9 a.m. staple Morning Joe lose its third straight quarter in both demo and total viewership to CNN’s New Day, a 20-month-old show.
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