MSNBC Chief Acknowledges ‘Difficult’ Year, Vows Broader Focus in 2015

MSNBC Liberal Makeover Phil Griffin
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

MSNBC prexy Phil Griffin has vowed to broaden the news cabler’s focus and put more emphasis on digital offerings next year as the channel seeks to emerge from a prolonged ratings slump.

In a memo sent to staffers Monday, Griffin cited the vast changes in the television viewing landscape as a factor in MSNBC’s ratings woes.

“It’s no secret that 2014 was a difficult year for the entire cable news industry and especially for MSNBC. Technology is continuing to drive unprecedented changes across the media landscape – and we all should be taking a hard, honest look at how we need to evolve along with it,” Griffin wrote.

MSNBC is on track to deliver its lowest full-year ratings in key demos and dayparts since the 2005-2007 period. In primetime, through Dec. 14, MSNBC is hitting its lowest marks since 2006 in the adults 25-54 demo (175,000) and its lowest ebb in total viewers since 2007 (603,000). MSNBC still ranks No. 2 to Fox News in most measures, but CNN is chipping away at that advantage.

Griffin’s note cited MSNBC’s gains among Hispanic and African-American viewers as signs that efforts to diversify its audience are paying off. MSNBC ranks No. 1 in primetime among Hispanic viewers and has been No. 1 among black viewers for five consecutive years, Griffin said. He highlighted the recent deal that brought Telemundo News anchor Jose Diaz-Balart to MSNBC’s daytime sked as host of “The Rundown.”

Experimenting through MSNBC’s digital program incubator, dubbed the Shift, will be a priority for 2015, Griffin said, among other digital initiatives including its newsgathering partnership with Global Citizen.

Griffin also cited the importance of opening up MSNBC’s programming beyond Beltway-centric subjects.

“We’re going to get on the road – and outside of Washington – a lot more. We’re going to keep opening up our aperture, while investing in original reporting on the broad range of stories that move and inspire Americans. And we’re going to use new technologies, events and creative tools to engage and mobilize our passionate audience,” he wrote.

News of Griffin’s memo was first reported by the Los Angeles Times.



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  1. preuser says:

    NBC and more so MSNBC are useless tools ,Griffin is liberal tool maybe Comcast will wise up and sack him after his next impending failure !
    Nothing like declining ratings and revenue to motivate change ofc they are probably afraid to sack Sharpton and his race card !

  2. Sean McL says:

    The station is so one sided its a joke. They need to have some intelligent debate with folks having opposing viewpoints if they wish to expand their audience. They are so in the bag for the current Administration, they might as well be the North Korean News Network. Rachel Maddow comes off way too smug and condescending. Keith Obermann was even worse. This turns away viewers of all stripes. Lastly, why would any news station trying to build credibility hire a guy like Al Sharpton? MSNBC is so second rate, its a joke. If they don’t become more balanced in their reporting, they will continue their slide in viewer ratings.

  3. preuser says:

    Phil Griffin is a progressive libtard get rid of him.Al Sharpton and most of the libtard talent and editorial staff and start over !

  4. Ron says:

    “vast changes in viewer habits” are you kidding me? Can someone be that blind? They are all mouthpieces for the Obama admin. And the people are tired of it. They see right through it. Wake up and smell the coffee. How does this station not go bankrupt?

  5. preuser says:

    In any normal business Griffin would be shown the door along with most of the ‘talent ‘ at MSNBC
    ………….that’s the only hope they have at this point .

  6. preuser says:

    Phil Griffin and his progressive agenda along with Al Sharpton,Andrea Mitchell, Chris Matthews , Rachel Maddow, Melissa Harris- Perry and MSNBC in general have become the butt of jokes news wise they all should all go !

    MSNBC has NO credibility as a news agency any more .

    First to go should be Griffin he’s a liberal tool not a news executive he doesn’t belong in news he might as well be overseeing unscripted or scripted comedy with AL Sharpton and his crew fro MSNBC on OWN or BET maybe they will hire him when NBC/Comcast finally sacks him .

  7. gjna says:

    Everyone I know refuses to watch Fox lies as it goes aganst their Evangelical Christian training and AMERICAN values.

  8. Mike says:

    I’ve got your answer, shut it down. Your the laughing idiots of news

  9. Steve Henderson says:

    Like CNN, MSNBC must be getting some kind of back door payments from the Obama Administration to pull the party line on their laughable programming. It is the only way to explain their lemming-like adherence to the White House rhetoric, without question, while their viewers abandon ship in droves because it is so ridiculous.

    Therefore advertising revenue takes a massive hit, and how do they keep operating even though all the cash is walking out? A little money thrown there way from the White House so they will remain the American equivalent of the old Russian TASS.

  10. Steve Henderson says:

    The only hope for MSNBC is to cut loose the crazies like Chris Matthews and Rachel Maddow. Who wants to watch a bunch of opinionated nonsense that has been found to contain only 15% actual news content? MSNBC is clearly a left wing soapbox that should die a slow agonizing death for the complete disregard for journalistic integrity.

    • preuser says:

      MSNBC and NBC news needs a major housecleaning starting with Griffin at MSNBC and Sharpton they are soooo bad they make everybody else look good including ,Al Jazeera,and RT that’s pretty bad !

  11. Calling MSNBC a news outlet is laughable. They are simply the Democratic Parties propaganda tool. Their pathetic pundits continue to preach hate and division. This ultra liberal outlet has no where to go but downward in the ratings.

  12. I can not understand how MSNBC continues to function with this tiny audience. The money spent to prop it up must be staggering.

  13. Ed Kirwan says:

    Its real simple. Worry about steering your charge to truth rather than to predictably preferred outcome. There are no audiences who will pay for the smallest premium for predictability. Oh, and Sharpton is a cancer who repulses.

  14. Don E. Morris says:

    I am a devout liberal who watches MSNBC most of the time but I switch to Al Jazeria when Al Sharpton or Andrea Mitchell come on. The Reverend is one of the problems with MSNBC and America.

    • Atilla Thehun says:

      With due respect, your choice of “devout” to pair with “liberal” says everything. For liberals, control of others is, in fact, a religion. Your blind faith is that government is the solution. Sad.

      • preuser says:

        agree….one just has to look to Cuba ,Russia,and Venezuela and 50 yrs of failed democratic agendas and public/government policies here in US for abject failures .

  15. Chicago860 says:

    “…new technologies,” “…on the road,” mean nothing if they’re employed solely to support a failing liberal POV. Maybe while you’re out there on that road you’ll actually talk to real America.

  16. Bob Clow says:

    Your programs, with the possible exception of Morning Joe – and even that when Mika gets on a tear, are so liberally biased that you are getting the audience you deserve. No room on your shows for opposing views. And the Rev. Al? What a joke he is. The most racist man in America. Good luck attracting new moderate viewers.

  17. When your programing is so biased that opposing views are not aired or even solicited, and your hosts are totally not charismatic or intelligent what does this airhead that runs MSNBC expect?

  18. Bob Price says:

    Let Morning Joe go over to Fox!

  19. Ray Gradual says:

    Sharpton and Mathews must be put out to pasture. Hire Charles Blow and bring back Rafferty!

  20. Richard says:

    Should start by getting rid of the bias by omission used constantly by this network

  21. TINGLES UP MY LEG says:

    Hey Phil
    maybe you should have your low rated hosts obsess with FOX, GOP and racehustling

  22. He might want to start with a website that functions. Trying to watch a video on there is just a waste of time. The articles leave a lot to be desired. It’s horrible.

  23. Bill White says:

    Cut Al Sharpton for starters. Your talent pool can’t generate audience numbers.

  24. Dennis P. Quinn says:

    As long as MSNBC continues to try and hide/cover-up conservative issues and praise liberal issues only it will fail. Take ACORN for example. Sad. Just sad.

  25. wjm980 says:

    Love reading all the laughable, pathetic attempts by libs to justify MSNBC’s disastrous debacle.

  26. abe says:

    Look, MSNBC puts on hosts who are clinically insane. It is virtually impossible for a normal person to sit through an hour of any of them. As a fan of FOX News, I say keep it up.

  27. Vee Butterfield says:

    I find it hard to believe that MSNBC ranks second to FOX News in ratings. FOX News is so far ahead of MSNBC in ratings that it is a poor comparison. Has that happened since all of the DISH subscribers have been deprived of FOX News for the past week or so? Most of us have moved over to CNN or The Blaze (as we wait for FOX News to settle with DISH). Surely we are not watching MSNBC! Maybe this is why CNN is gaining on MSNBC in the ratings war.

    Maybe if Griffin can really “broaden the News Cabler’s focus” by moving, even slightly to the right, they would be worth watching. I’m tired of their mostly to the left reporting. Commentary is OK, but when the news gets reported with bias, it’s time to switch channels.

    I’m surprised that CNN is trailing MSNBC. As noted in this article, many of MSNBC’s viewers are from minorities, African-American or Hispanic. These groups are reportedly responsible for the recent rise in MSNBC’s ratings. These minority groups are part of is what some call the “un-informed” or the “mis-informed”. Surely adding these minorities to their subscriber list isn’t really adding to their diversity. They remain far to the left of center.

    It is interesting that the liberal media ignores many of the minority giants who are trying to help fix America’s problems, such as Dr. Ben Carson, and business tycoon, Herman Cain.

    I’m new here and am trying to understand where in the news spectrum Variety stands?

  28. Traciwinz says:

    Msnbc seems to only have good ratings during presidential election years. I haven’t looked at them since. For anyone who thinks the USA is moving more conservative just wait til u get whitewashed for the third straight presidential election in 2016. It will be an even bigger margin. Faux news congregates all tea parties in one place and tell them what they want to hear ala “Romney’s gonna win by a landslide” faux news mantra lol!

  29. The nation has NOT “turned conservative,” so calm down. Maybe MSNBC needs to hire a few dozen bubble headed blond women and scatter them across all day parts.

    • Chicago860 says:

      Wow. Your screen name may be indicative of the typical liberal viewpoint. Bottom line, libs are happy when people are suffering. That should be an MSNBC mantra

  30. MarinDem says:

    blah, blah, blah :-(

  31. big bertha says:

    The nation has turned conservative and if you keep pushing the left agenda, you are doomed. You also need to clean house of people like the Rev. Al Sharpton if you want any respect and credibility.

    • Diana Jarema says:

      Try to watch any of the Local Night time News stations and you will find out they are all liberal because of these stats. ABC News Ex. Producer Ian Cameron is married to Susan Rice, National Sec. Adviser.
      CBS Pres. David Rhodes is the brother of Ben Rhodes, Obama’s Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications, ABC News Correspondent Claire Shipman is married to former White House Press Sec. Jay Carney., ABC News & Univision Reporter Matthew Jaffe is married to Katie Hogan, Obama’s Deputy Press Secretary., ABC Pres. Ben Sherwood is the brother of Obama’s Special Adviser, Elizabeth Sherwood., CNN President Virginia Moseley is married to former Hilliary Clinton’s Deputy Sec. Tom Nides. And now you know why it is no surprise the media is in Obama’s pocket.

      And you wonder why Obama hates Fox news. because he cannot control them.

    • MarinDem says:

      in fact the nation is moving towards right of center and they need to rid themselves of more than just Rev Al who has become a menace to a civilized society with his race baiting agenda.

      • Steve Henderson says:

        I just want DOJ to launch a legitimate investigation into Sharpton’s tax problems related to shifty business dealings involving his non-profit. He is something like $4.5 Million in the hole, so why he is not wearing stripes right now is baffling. They sent Wesley Snipes to jail for a lot less, and anyone who lets it get to $4.5 Million needs to be investigated, convicted and serve time.

        But will this DOJ do it? Not while Sharpies backslapping fellow radicals and community organizers are at the helm…no Obama and Holder turn a blind eye to a criminal if said criminal is black.

      • Vee Butterfield says:

        I agree that mainstream America has moved toward the right. Actually mainstream America (the silent majority) has always been conservative. The loud liberal left get all the attention in the news media, and in particular on the broadcast network stations, most news papers and cable/satellite stations such as MSNBC.

        If we had an attorney general who was going his job then he, or the IRS would bring Al Sharpton in and charge him with federal income tax evasion. He is probably guilty of several felonies, including inciting to riot. I have a hard time calling him a Reverend, as I watch the evil he is spreading (with some success).

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