Due To Chuck Todd And ‘Morning Joe,’ MSNBC Finds Itself In Last Place Among Younger Viewers

While the cable network hyped up its increase in ratings compared to last year, MSNBC was behind everyone in the all-important 25-54 demographic.

On Tuesday, all of the major cable news networks released statements hyping up this month’s ratings in comparison with October 2014. For the most part, Fox News, CNN (and its sister network HLN) and MSNBC all had at least some good news worthy of boasting. CNN, due to the huge numbers it saw in the first Democratic primary debate, saw its ratings climb an amazing 101% compared to this time last year. Fox News, while seeing a slight decrease in both the 25-54 demo and overall viewership, could at least highlight increases for individual programs and point out that it is still top dog. Even HLN could brag about increases in the younger demo.

Meanwhile, MSNBC seemingly had a decent amount to crow about, as they saw an increase of 26% in overall viewership. The growth carried over into their primetime lineup with those shows up 26% as well. However, as we all know, there is truth in numbers, and there is truth behind the numbers. While the network crowed about the increases across the board compared to October of last year, a troubling pattern could be seen. And it is one I am sure the network chiefs are well aware of, hence the musical chairs occurring in the weekday lineup over the past few months.

While the channel saw some decent increases in most of its programs, MSNBC was still dead last in the 25-54 demographic, placing behind even HLN. For the total day audience in the month, MSNBC averaged 87,000 in the demo, which is 29K less than HLN and a fraction of what Fox News (197,000) attracted. While they jumped ahead of HLN in primetime in the demo, 134K to 99K, they were still FAR behind CNN and Fox News, as those two networks pulled in 304,000 and 299,000, respectively.

Are there any particular programs that seem to be hurting the network in this demographic that is most important to advertisers? Why, yes, yes there are. Considering that MSNBC is seen as the ‘progressive’ channel, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that the two shows that seem to be struggling most with younger viewers are headlined by Joe Scarborough and Chuck Todd. Yep, Morning Joe and MTP Daily, which premiered right before October, are just getting killed in the demo.

For the past 16 months, Morning Joe has found itself mired in last place in the demographic, seeing itself beat by both CNN’s New Day and HLN’s Morning Express with Robin Meade. In fact, Meade just extended her winning streak in the demo to 18 months. Sure, Morning Joe regularly beats Meade and New Day in total viewers and finishing a distant second to Fox & Friends, but it is obvious that senior citizens make up the bulk of its audience. (This has been something of a sore spot for Scarborough for a while now, especially when CNN brags about it.)

As for Todd, he was brought in to improve on the low ratings, specifically among young viewers, that had plagued Ed Schultz ever since his program was shuffled around and stuck in the 5 PM ET slot. Unfortunately for MSNBC, MTP Daily has been a ratings sinkhole. The program has routinely placed in third in its timeslot. While that is understandable, it is how dismal he is doing in the demo that should be really concerning, especially since he is a known commodity. Last Tuesday, he pulled in an abysmal 40,000 viewers in the demographic. That placed him 26K behind HLN. CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, suffering one of his worst recent days in the demo, was still 52,000 above Todd.

While that is a bit of an extreme example, the fact remains that Todd regularly gets his ass beaten by Wolf in the demo and struggles to keep pace with him in total viewers, despite the fact that the rest of the MSNBC primetime lineup easily beats CNN in overall audience. Remember, this is the guy that NBC News is trusting to host its venerated Sunday show, Meet the Press.

It is admirable that MSNBC is trying to restructure to network to focus on more ‘hard news’ and less on liberal political opinion. That is why they gave the ax to Ed Schultz, Alex Wagner, Joy Reid, Ronan Farrow and The Cycle while exiling Al Sharpton to Sunday mornings. However, making the conservative-skewing Morning Joe your daytime centerpiece and bringing back Mr. Both Sides Do It to start off your weeknights is only going to turn off any potential millennials you were hoping to attract.

Justin Baragona is the editor and publisher of Contemptor. Prior to starting the site, he worked on the editorial staff of PoliticusUSA. During that time, he had his work quoted by USA Today and BBC News, among others. Justin began his published career as a political writer for 411Mania. He currently resides in St. Louis, MO with his wife and pets.
9 Comments on this post.
  • Paul
    27 October 2015 at 7:45 pm

    MSNBC doesn’t want younger viewers. Why not, seeing as every other cable tv channel will fight for them?

    Because mostly you want young folks for one reason: they’re impressionable and suggestible, and you can tell and sell them just about anything. But the young people tuning to MSNBC were TOO SMART…too suspicious of trends and advertising, and of the messages the media feel they need to put over politically.

    The final straw was when parent company Comcast decided it was not about to give Bernie Sanders his only serious coverage among the news networks – Ed Schultz had to leave the air for giving him that coverage, as well as for his own constant criticism of the Transpacific Partnership.

    Advertisers and management alike wanted these untenable positions and unsellable viewers to go away, and changing MSNBC’s focus has made that happen. Whether a new audience’s loyalty can be won is another question – the important thing was to lose the problematic audience MSNBC already had.

  • Deb
    27 October 2015 at 8:54 pm

    When you get rid of popular host like Alex Wagner, and Ed and the Cycle and put people like Chuck Todd who not many people I know of even like.Morning Joe would be a GREAT show if you got rid of Joe. All of the other people and Mika are wonderful… But, I stopped watching Morning Joe because of the horrible person Joe is towards anyone who does not agree with him. And the morning he snapped his fingers in Mika’s face to get her attention was when I turned the channel and have not watched it since. What made it even worst was he thought it was funny. And as long as Chuck and Joe are on MSNBC my husband and I will not watch this network. Powers that be did not think this one through at all…

  • Sharon Pruett
    27 October 2015 at 8:54 pm

    We have been telling MSNBC what we progressives want, but they are dead set on leaning further right. WE are their viewership, or WERE. There is a boycott and it’s only going to get worse until they start listening. The Joe Blow disaster is a sore spot with many. In fact so many have turned Joe off that I don’t know how he still has any ratings. He’s a blowhard Republican shill who lies and bloviates and softsoaps his Right Wing guests and we are sick of him and his rudeness and childish tantrums. Upchuck Toad on the other hand is just a horrible interviewer. Another right wing shill who was SO RUDE to our President. He was an impudent fool with his questions to the President…just watch it. BUT when there is a Republican on the show he all but kisses their a$$. He knows they are lying, yet does NO pushback if they are Republican. We don’t forget and for that matter, it has NOT gotten any better. I watched his MTP show a couple times…it was dull, boring and the Toad’s arrogance and rudeness has not gone away. I just want to know who the hell he thinks he is. Someone must be kissing up to him at corporate level…I guess because he deliver on the right wing bias they want to propogate. I don’t want to see propaganda.
    I want truth and when I need a valuable opinion, I will watch Rachel. SHE is the star of your network. Ask yourself why. She tells the truth. She has a sense of humor. She has a talent for telling a story and making you understand the backstory of things that are happening. She is a wealth of knowledge. She’s personable and pretty and she laughs a lot, but mainly she is smart as hell. That intelligence is something you won’t see on Fox or hardly CNN. You should pay this woman TOP SALARY. And bring back some of the progressives. Not all of them were great, but Joy Reid, for one, had a good show and she was getting better and better. She’s also a sharp lady with a pleasant demeanor. A lot of people are clamoring for Keith Olbermann. He was gone before I became a fan, but I hear he kept Bill O’Reilly on the ropes. I can’t believe you’ve brought Chuck Todd onto MSNBC and are talking about extending the Joe show another hour…brilliant…that’s the way to kill a network. I am personally glad to see Brian Williams involved with the news now. We love Brian. I know that no one is going to listen to our cries for more progressive programming…but there it is. And its the truth.

    • Roni
      29 October 2015 at 9:04 pm

      I agree with everything you said, Sharon. I can’t believe they are actually considering extending Morning Joe another hour. They could make it six hours and I still would not watch that mysogynist pig and his meek sidekick.

      Chuck Todd has no idea what a journalist does.

      “During a segment on “Morning Joe,” former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D) speculated that most opponents of the Affordable Care Act have been fed erroneous information about the law. Todd said that Republicans “have successfully messaged against it” but he disagrees with those who argue that the media should educate the public on the law. According to Todd, that’s President Barack Obama’s job.” Talking Points Memo (http://j.mp/1P8V4CM)

      So it appears he doesn’t believe it’s his responsibility to point out fallacies when Republicans speak but you can bet he drills the Democrats when he interviews them (see his interview of President Obama).

      I watch Maddows faithfully, along with Chris Hayes, although I sometimes feel they are cover too much of the same subjects some nights. I also adore her. She’s so smart and informative. Plus if she finds out she’s made a mistake, she corrects it.

      Chris Mathews is a whole other ballgame. He’s good with political history but most of the time the show is all about him.

      MSNBC, bring back the progressives and young people will watch. BTW, I’m in my late 70s. FWIW 🙂

  • arsailman
    28 October 2015 at 11:29 am

    Chuck Todd is a conservative hack. I watched MTP for over 2o years, but stopped within a month of his appointment. We, and I mean the viewers, would prefer Luke Russert to Todd any day of the week…..

  • Don parker
    28 October 2015 at 5:28 pm

    I absolutely HATE HATE HATE Morning Joe and NO VALUE MIKA. Joe is the worst person on all of television bar none. He is worst than fox no news, I’d rather see the horrible show “LOCKUP” when I wake in the morning than to watch morning Joe this is the worst show I have ever seen in my 65 years on earth. I HATE MORNING JOE!!! I
    Hate him and his lousy lousy show. Did I mention I hate morning Joe and his stinking show? I hate him.

  • Listwalker
    30 October 2015 at 5:02 am

    The above article for the most part conveniently leaves out the fact that the ratings winner by a landslide, Fox News, skews incredibly old. Nielsen TV data shows that the average age of Fox viewers is 68. The average viewers at MSNBC and CNN are 60, and the average is 62-64 for news on the so-called broadcast networks. Another interesting tidbit is only 1.1% of Fox News viewers are black. So bottom-line, older people are by far the majority of folk who pay attention to News on TV. A lot of younger people don’t watch *ANY* TV. At. all. None. They get their entertainment through on-demand stuff over the Internet along with various social media. And they tend to be only peripherally interested in politics. They typically don’t vote either. So, harping on and on about “The Demo” (impressionable people with cash you can sell just about anything to) is a non-starter when you’re talking about 24-hour cable news programming. Take a look at who’s buying the bulk of the advertising minutes on these channels: Drug companies, targeting old folk with the millions of maladies they tend to struggle with. MSNBC is grooming a nice cadre of young reporters and anchors who may help skew the network a bit more to the young side (as much as that’s even realistic or possible) – Luke Russert, Steve Kornacki, Kasie Hunt, Robert Costa, .. the list goes on. There’s reason to hope that MSNBC’s best days are ahead.

  • daniel
    2 November 2015 at 4:54 pm

    dump Chuch todd and joe in the morning those are two of the words shows on tv, i used to watch this channel but since you people got those two loosers, i better waTch CNN
    bring back Keith Olderman, the reverend, Brian Williams,Alex Warner, Ed Shultz and you see the difference.

    Otherwise good bye MSNBC

    • PK
      25 November 2015 at 8:24 pm

      Joe absolutely hates President Obama. He hates to even acknowledge that he is President. And when people come on the show who disagree with him, he will not let them speak and he literally yells at them. I feel sorry for Mika because she has to sit and listen to his BS and kiss his ass all the while knowing that he is full of it!!! Send him over to Fox News. He would be better off over there.

    Follow Us On Twitter