Absent a national election last year, the cable news audience declined at the three leading networks. But MSNBC, which had predicted it could overtake Fox News by 2014, took a giant step backward last year with its primetime audience declining 24% from the previous year, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center’s Journalism Project.
By comparison, Fox News lost a modest 6%, while the struggling CNN lost 13%, contributing to an overall cable news decline of 11%.
Yet despite the decline, Fox News still drew more viewers on average (1.75 million) than MSNBC (619,500) and CNN (543,000) combined, proving just how much it dominates the sector.
In the daytime, both Fox (up 2%) and CNN (up 12%) saw gains, while MSNBC dragged down the group with a 15.5% decline.
While an off election year can explain some of the decline for MSNBC, the real culprits are the network’s unabashed support for President Obama, whose favorable ratings have plummeted; the botched Obamacare rollout and its lingering problems, which the network rarely talks about; and the lack of a truly “evil” Republican that the network can bash on a regular basis. Apparently even their viewers tired of the hour-by-hour updates of the latest Chris Christie email to be revealed.
MSNBC was also the only one of the big three cable news networks to experience a revenue decline (2%), with overall revenues projected to come in at $475 million. That trails CNN ($1.11 billion) and Fox News ($1.89 billion) by a large measure.
The outlook for MSNBC’s brand of liberalism is cloudy at best, and that can’t be too thrilling to Chris Matthews and Co.