OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Popular MSNBC host Rachel Maddow recently returned from her nearly two-month hiatus to reveal that she’s going to be taking more time off and only be on air once a week. Since then, Maddow has returned to the network on a new schedule. Instead of going on air every weeknight, she’s airing only one night per week to make time for other projects — and she just gave a big update on her new plans.
Maddow only hosts her own show on Mondays and Alex Wagner was named the permanent host of the 9 PM ET show on Tuesday through Friday nights. The “Maddow experiment” apparently has “executives worried” as the show’s ratings have plummeted.
“‘Alex Wagner Tonight’ has averaged 1.6 million viewers through two weeks compared to 2.6 million for ‘The Rachel Maddow Show’ when it aired on Mondays during that two-week span, as Wagner shed over 30% of Maddow’s audience. Maddow also pulled in 241,000 viewers from the advertiser-coveted 25-to-54 age demographic during that time, compared to only 163,000 for Wagner,” the outlet reported. “Additionally, Wagner has lost nearly 30% of viewers in the key demo, going from 183,000 in her debut to 112,000 in last Friday’s broadcast, falling from first to seventh among MSNBC offerings.”
Maddow announced to viewers a few months ago that she will only host her show on the network once a week while she continues to work on “other projects.”
Essentially, Maddow is being paid $30 million per year and is only hosting her program once a week. And her show is tanking in the ratings, which is costing the network even more money.
Media critic Jeffrey McCall believes MSNBC executives are very worried about Maddow only hosting the show once a week and how the ratings have fallen off a cliff.
“MSNBC execs have to be concerned by this weak primetime showing. Maddow’s show has for a long time been a tent pole for MSNBC’s entire evening, delivering audiences for the 9 p.m. hour, but also boosting viewership in the hours before and after,” McCall said.
“With Trump out of office for almost a year and a half now, it is hard to generate ratings by raging about Trump. Further, with the multiple policy problems of the Biden administration, it is difficult to generate a left-leaning audience to watch the daily parade of bad news about inflation, crime, international turmoil, and so on, even when there is a left-of-center spin on those topics,” McCall said. “Those left-leaning viewers are choosing to just avoid news programming these days, even in venues that are sympathetic to the Biden administration.”
“Sensible viewers see more practical problems right in front of them every day in gas prices, inflation, sinking retirement accounts, baby formula shortages, and the list goes on,” McCall added.
Specifically, Maddow is working on a narrative podcast about World War II, she said in an interview with Vanity Fair magazine shortly after announcing her hiatus.
A report from Forbes notes how 2022 was “another gloomy year for many cable news outlets,” particularly MSNBC.
“With the midterm elections, January 6 hearings, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the economy, and Roe vs. Wade being overturned, 2022 was another newsworthy year. Nonetheless, the ratings of news networks were either flat or down notably from 2021. Once again, Fox News Channel was cable’s top-rated network and at 2.37 million was the only channel to average over two million primetime viewers for the year. Fox News Channel was also the only major news network that kept their weeknight primetime lineup intact for the entire year,” the outlet reported.
“While Comcast’s MSNBC was one of only a handful of cable networks to average over one million primetime viewers, its average audience of 1.20 million viewers, a sharp -22% decline from 2022. In mid-August Rachel Maddow the host of MSNBC’s top-rated The Rachel Maddow Show cut back her on-air hours from weeknights to just Mondays enabling her to work on other projects. In addition, earlier in 2022 Maddow had gone on hiatus, impacting ratings,” the outlet added.