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MSNBC Dayside Demo Ratings Lowest In 11 Years

Hey media writers and TV critics – remember when you had all those ideas about how to help CNN’s lagging prime time ratings?

Well, put on those executive hats again because it’s time to help MSNBC. The network’s 9am-5pmET (dayside ratings) is headed for its worst year since 1999, with even less viewers in May.

The MSNBC ratings comparison is based on the A25-54 demographic, and so far in 2010 the network is averaging 73,000 from 9am-5pmET. In the first two weeks of May, that average falls to 68,000. It takes going back to 1999 (less than three years after the network launched) to find an average lower.

This is a storyline we’ve discussed before, last year. It showed that CNN generally finishes 2nd place on cable during these hours, while MSNBC is fourth, and sometimes even 5th (behind fellow NBCU network CNBC). While MSNBC has far surpassed CNN during the prime time, and even pre-prime time hours, the dayside ratings are still low, despite occasional line-up shuffling. Also, it should be noted, Fox News is far and away in first place in every category.

Before 9amET, MSNBC beats CNN as well (in total viewers, but not in demo). It was mentioned in Sunday’s fawning New York Times profile of Morning Joe that the program regularly beat CNN’s American Morning in total viewers. Not mentioned, however, was that HLN’s Morning Express regularly beats MSNBC – and has for more than a year. But the problems are really from 9-5.

So how does MSNBC fix this? Well hopefully the dozens of media writers have some ideas of their own. But when looking at what has been successful for the network, certain themes emerge. With Keith Olbermann as the face of the new MSNBC, we see strong personalities, and yes, a liberal tilt. That works for Rachel Maddow, as well as Ed Schultz and Chris Matthews before prime time. It doesn’t worry about sometimes appealing to partisan emotions – and in the process has built a loyal audience that has grown in the last few years (although MSNBC shows have declined year-to-year, as most programs have).

One solution could be to build up the dayside hours with more personality-driven news. While Andrea Mitchell and Chuck Todd are well respected journalists, their anchoring duties have not produced significant ratings. For a visual representation of these ratings, take a look at the usual ratings charts, but with the 9am-5pmET ratings filled in. We picked a random day, Tuesday.

Update – Mediaite publisher Dan Abrams (who is Chief Legal Analyst for NBC News and often appears on MSNBC) defends MSNBC’s ratings in comments below, saying “anyone who says that MSNBC (on the whole) in the past five years has not become a real success story is either too blinded by politics or isn’t paying attention.”

(Here’s the actual Tuesday ratings report.):

TV NEWS RATINGS: 25-54 DEMOGRAPHIC (L +SD)
Fox News CNN MSNBC CNN Headline News
9 am Am Newsroom

353

Newsroom

125

Daily Run.

50

Express Cont.

10 am Am Newsroom

346

Newsroom

118

MSNBC Live

69

Express

76

11 am Hap. Now

206

Newsroom

136

MSNBC Live

42

Showbiz

52

12 pm Hap. Now

175

Newsroom

145

MSNBC Live

33

News

60

1 pm America Live

254

Velshi

154

Michell Rep.

43

News

62

2 pm America Live

247

Velshi

157

MSNBC Live

41

News

61

3 pm Studio B

222

Rick’s List

143

MSNBC Live

59

News

54

4 pm Cavuto

285

Rick’s List

131

Ratigan

110

News

76

TOTAL DAY 315 131 118 111
Data by Nielsen Media Research. Live and same day (DVR) data.
TV NEWS RATINGS: TOTAL VIEWERS (L +SD)
Fox News CNN MSNBC CNN Headline News
9 am Am Newsroom

1292

Newsroom

446

Daily Run.

295

Express Cont.

10 am Am Newsroom

1200

Newsroom

470

MSNBC Live

279

Express

250

11 am Hap. Now

916

Newsroom

477

MSNBC Live

212

Showbiz

253

12 pm Hap. Now

791

Newsroom

499

MSNBC Live

208

News

259

1 pm America Live

1092

Velshi

607

Michell Rep.

299

News

230

2 pm America Live

1211

Velshi

436

MSNBC Live

257

News

223

3 pm Studio B

1100

Rick’s List

514

MSNBC Live

236

News

174

4 pm Cavuto

1373

Rick’s List

538

Ratigan

355

News

177

TOTAL DAY 1170 444 392 285
Data by Nielsen Media Research. Live and same day (DVR) data.

Obviously the bigger issue is demo than total viewers, but the numbers are striking. While CNN struggles in prime time, MSNBC struggles during the day.

Media writers, let’s hear those ideas!

—–
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