MSNBC, which has seen its ratings nosedive over the last two years, is preparing for a major potential programming shift. It is planning to launch several new programs ranging from sports to books to pop culture, on a streaming video portal that will serve as a test lab of sorts for programs that could eventually make their way onto the cable network. And no, it doesn’t mean that Chris Matthews and Rachel Maddow will be doing any play-by-play of sporting events, though that would be highly amusing.
The new digital initiative, known as “Shift by MSNBC,” will feature 14 programs and will begin airing on Monday.
MSNBC president Phil Griffin told Variety that the network must “keep evolving,” and that they were going to “broaden the aperture, but keep the sensibility.”
Griffin also said that MSNBC had great success from 2006-2013 with its sensibility, but that the media are exploding and they have to adjust.
MSNBC, which lost 24% of its audience in 2013, saw its audience drop by 13% last month when compared to a year ago, and often trails CNN in the ratings.
“Shift” will only stream original content from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, and will run a loop of programming at other times so as not to compete with MSNBC’s primetime programming—which doesn’t need or want anymore competition.
MSNBC is hoping that the video streaming and the addition of younger hosts like Luke Russert will help attract millennial viewers who are increasingly abandoning traditional television viewing for other streaming services that can be readily viewed on their cellphones, tablets and laptops.
If these streaming programs do gain some traction and make it to MSNBC, it will signal a major strategy shift. It will also be an admission from Griffin—who boasted in 2013 that the network would overtake Fox—that not only has he failed miserably, but so has liberal television.