The scenario is a bit like the classic 1976 film, “Network.” TV competitors that will stop at nothing to drag down the leader.
The cable news game is heating up dramatically. After the survey came out showing 85 percent of those questioned find MSNBC “biased,” the wheels started to spin in the corporate conference rooms all over New York, Atlanta and Washington.
Fox News has literally sprinted ahead of their competition while MSNBC and CNN lag far behind in ratings. In fact, last week alone, Fox News averaged 1.3 million daily viewers, MSNBC scored 487,000 viewers and once ultra-popular CNN dug up just over 390,000 viewers.
Fox has not only dominated the daily ratings, but the much-cherished 25-54-year-old demographic for a decade, and now MSNBC and CNN are trying to change that.
They have a lot of changing to do – fast.
Change Leadership, Change Style
CNN has new leadership with veteran news guru Jeff Zucker. He has quickly realized that ratings are based on the ability to draw people to your late breaking “news,” much like Fox does every hour. Good or bad, they make you feel like you are there.
CNN plans to mimic that style. In fact, it was their old style years ago when they were a clear number one.
The man at MSNBC to clean up that incredible disaster is Phil Griffin. His efforts are also finding a younger audience. The first causality is veteran talk man Ed Schulz’s “The Ed Show.” It will be moving to the weekend making room for, you guessed it, a young man named Charlie Hayes whose new show “All In” is scheduled to premiere April 1 at 8 p.m. EST.
Griffin and Zucker are in a fierce ratings war to see who will be the number two cable news network. They are old friends who have had connected careers for nearly four decades.
They Still Don’t Get It
Their mission is enormous and the barriers all too real. Fox has grown an audience that is not only millilons stronger than the two rivals by triple, but the audience is loyal and not easy to change their minds.
As for Fox News, Griffin’s producers reportedly refer to it as “Loserville.”
To show the discrepancy in the ratings, in 2011, Fox News had profits of nearly $900 million on $1.6 billion of revenue, according to an analysis by SNL Kagan. The same year, MSNBC made $195 million on $420 million of revenue.
That’s a wide gap, like the Grand Canyon.
“Fox executives mostly laugh at MSNBC and its dreams of cable news domination – To catch Fox, MSNBC wouldn’t just have to sustain its current ratings; it’d have to double them,” writes The New Republic’s Rebecca Dana.
I wonder if Rachael Maddow is looking at the want ads yet?