MSNBC In Free-Fall

The New York Times documents a precipitous decline in viewers at MSNBC:

Though it has mostly happened quietly, which may be a comment on the cable network’s larger status in the media landscape, MSNBC has seen its ratings hit one of the deepest skids in its history, with the recently completed third quarter of 2014 generating some record lows. …

During the third quarter, [Rachel] Maddow reached an average of 183,000 viewers in the audience component that most matters to MSNBC’s advertisers, viewers between the ages of 25 and 54, her lowest total since she started her show in 2008.

Interesting. That means that nearly as many people read my takedown of one of her shows–131,747 views–as saw the program in the first place.

More worrying is the slide for “Morning Joe,” which has, for much of its time on the air, enjoyed status as one of the most talked-about shows in media industry circles. Now the heat around the show seems to have dissipated. For four straight months, and six of the last eight, “Morning Joe” has trailed CNN’s new morning entry, “New Day.”

I had no idea that CNN has a show called “New Day.” What follows is a brilliant bit of analysis by an anonymous industry insider:

One longtime news executive who has worked for both network and cable news organizations said the problem with “Morning Joe” was partly a broader issue with MSNBC. “‘Morning Joe’ has been hurt because no one is tuning in to watch the channel now; they go right by,” he said. “The show took its eye off the ball, but you can’t discount the fact that nobody is watching the channel.”

Ratings are down because no one is watching! Why didn’t I think of that?

There is nothing wrong with enjoying a little schadenfreude at MSNBC’s plight. But what struck me most about the Times article is not limited to MSNBC, and in fact is rather alarming:

The median age of the MSNBC viewer has also ticked upward. Five years ago it was 58; now it is 61. CNN has edged down a bit, from 62 five years ago to 59. Fox News has aged from 65 to 68.

No wonder cable news ratings are down–its viewers are dying off! Fox News does an excellent job, but if its median viewer is 68 years old, we conservatives need to do more to reach the next generation. “Next generation” meaning those who are not yet on Medicare.

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