Guy Benson

Unabashed, sneering, surreal lefty propaganda isn't selling.  America's least-watched "major" cable "news" network has continued its ratings slide this summer, falling off a cliff within the key 25-54 demographic.  I put "news" in scare quotes because MSNBC is not a news outfit, by its own president's admission, and according to empirical independent studies.  The network's numbers are way down across the board and have sustained especially dramatic erosion during the key primetime hours:


MSNBC continued its rough 2013 in the ratings, continuing to lose significant audience from 2012. The problems were particularly prevalent in primetime, with some shows losing close to -50% of viewers....In primetime, “The Rachel Maddow Show” posted all-time low ratings in total and demo viewers, down -43% and -47%, respectively. “The Last Word” posted a low in total viewers, losing -40% of its total viewer audience and -42% of its demo audience. at 8 PM, “All in” was down -48% and -42% in total and demo viewers, respectively, placing behind CNN for the hour.


MSNBC's flagship program, The Rachel Maddow Show has hemorrhaged nearly half of its viewers over the past year.  On average, the network attracted a measly 173,000 primetime viewers within 'the demo' this month.  Things have gotten bad enough that MSNBC executives have decided to restore Ed Schultz to weeknights at 5pm ET, supplanting the first run of Chris Matthews' Hardball.  Schultz -- a failed conservative radio host -- is the angriest, yelliest host in the network, and was banished to weekends this past spring.  Now he's back to save the day.  Ranting about how Republicans "want to see you dead!" is evidently more appealing to MSNBC's sophisticated audience than the musings of a more cerebral host like Chris Hayes, who replaced Schultz in the 8pm hour.  Not all the ratings data is bad for the network, however:

MSNBC was the only cable channel to see viewership growth last August, thanks in part to live coverage from the Olympics...It should also be noted that with the slow news month, the weekend crime programming like “Lockup” rated very well for MSNBC, helping to boost its primetime and total day averages.


Perfect.  MSNBC performs best with America's television audience writ large when it steps away from its normal political programming to air sports and documentaries about prison life.  I'll leave you with Big Ed returning with a bang:


I'm sure the addition of this leading light will be a major boon to MSNBC weekends.  And by the way, guess who is on television again?


Guy Benson

Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Senior Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography