Accuracy in Media

In an interview with The New Yorker magazine published on Monday, MSNBC primetime host Chris Hayes admitted that his ratings have been “bad.”

chris hayesHayes told Kelefa Sanneh, who wrote the article, that “obviously, the numbers are bad right now”—but warned against making any drastic changes based on what has worked on any given night.

Up With Chris Hayes, which took over the 8 p.m. time slot from Ed Schultz in April, has struggled to match, much less exceed,  Schultz’s ratings, contributing to a network-wide slump that dropped MSNBC to third place in the overall ratings behind Fox News and CNN.

MSNBC president Phil Griffin was betting that the 34-year old Hayes would attract a much younger—and advertiser-coveted—audience than the 59-year old Schultz, but that hasn’t been the case so far. Instead of increasing the audience for the primetime slot, he has lost viewers as the lead-in for Rachel Maddow.

The poor performance of Hayes’ show led Griffin to shuffle the lineup by eliminating one of Chris Matthews’ two daily shows to make room for Schultz, placing him in the 5 p.m. slot. Since Hayes gets to keep his primetime slot, I’m not sure how this lineup shift will help MSNBC in the ratings.

Griffin told Sanneh that he wasn’t worried about Hayes’ slow start because he was “building for the future,” and that “We’re making a bet that this is what the audience wants.”

Maybe Griffin should double-check the ratings, because it’s very clear that Hayes isn’t what the audience wants. The longer that Griffin sticks with Hayes, the more damage he is likely to inflict on MSNBC, not that I’m complaining.

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