MSNBC Viewership Surges Amid Trump Chaos

rachel maddow
MIKE MCGREGOR for Variety

In recent days, Rachel Maddow has had more in common with Bill O’Reilly than the average MSNBC viewer might suspect.

For the first three nights of this week, Maddow’s 9 p.m. broadcast on MSNBC was the most-watched on cable-news in primetime – a position that had long been enjoyed by the 8 p.m. hour in the Fox News schedule, where O’Reilly had a roost for more than two decades,and where Tucker Carlson now holds court.

Maddow’s recent gains are part of a viewership surge at the NBCUniversal-owned network that comes as a chaotic White House has driven viewers to MSNBC in ways the executives really haven’t seen since the days of Keith Olbermann.  Last week, MSNBC’s primetime schedule was tops in the demographic most coveted by advertisers – people between 25 and 54 – for the first time since the week of December 29, 2008. MSNBC’s  “Maddow,” “The Last Word” and “11th Hour” are all leading in that viewership category for the month to date, according to data from Nielsen.

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“MSNBC’s ratings surge is entirely due to the ongoing crisis of fake news – the more that news designed to deceive plays a role in politics and our lives, the more people hunger for news they can trust and which is demonstrably true,” said Paul Levinson, a professor of media studies at Fordham University.

The onslaught of news surrounding President Trump – a Washington Post report that he may have shared classified information with Russian visitors and a New York Times scoop that he had asked former FBI Director Comey to end an investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn – has rallied viewers to MSNBC and Time Warner’s CNN.

But in recent nights, those stories have not inspired the same rabid interest in viewers of Fox News Channel. For the month through May 16, Fox News’ total schedule has attracted more viewers overall and in the demo than MSNBC or CNN. On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, however, the network came in third in primetime among viewers between 25 and 54.

CNN often thrives in periods of breaking-news. Its viewership surges when a national crisis unfolds. MSNBC has for the past few years placed more of an emphasis on breaking news during its daytime schedule, while maintaining its progressive-themed primetime lineup.

The question: is MSNBC gaining a new reputation as a place for breaking news, or are liberal viewers motivated to watch more closely while conservatives are not?

Maddow has been leading the charge. In April, her “Rachel Maddow Show” was the most-watched cable-news program in the demo.  Overall viewership of her program grew 98% last month while her 25-to-54 audience surged 89%. Her program, which launched on MSNBC in 2008, is currently the fastest growing primetime show in cable news – nearly a decade into its tenure on the air.

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  1. LouCsplainin says:

    I see Variety Readers are Lockstep Lefties. The Brainwashing has been thorough I’ll give em that

  2. Rachel is the best. She is so smart, articuate and knows her stuff. I love her and Chris Hayes too. Civic geeks make the best news hosts because they not only have a solid understanding of policy, but they also have a great enthusiasm. Even people like Laura Ingram and Bill O’Reilly acknowledge that Maddow is a smart, admirable force to be reckoned with.

  3. Lupe says:

    Rachel is a breath of fresh air!!!I Love her her show I always learn from her she always connect the dots!!! Keep up the great work!! Rachel is the best!!!

  4. Rosemarie Green says:

    Rachel is a raving lunatic! Her style of reporting boring news drivel as if it is earthshaking is laughable!! She gets so excited when she tries to play “gotcha” that it’s downright ridiculous!! Anyway I watch when Fox News has commercials lunacy can be mildly entertaining! So keep going Rachel Mad Dog!!

  5. Wade says:

    Trump, abrupt, corrupt, usurped… who starts a fight with the Intelligence Community involving the devotion to the Russians and patriotism to one’s country…. Almost a foregone conclusion of the outcome. What a lame self-serving being…. Thick as thieves….

  6. Caroline Brannum says:

    I can’t tolerate Maddow without having a bottle anti-acid within reach of my remote control. She is the Queen of Mean, spinning nothing but twisted news stories.

  7. Pk says:

    Much to do about nothing. Wishful thinking when it comes to truthful news emanating from MSNBC,

  8. Wrenchman says:

    Watching Maddow is akin to driving by a bad car accident on the freeway, you can’t help but look!
    She’s a smug and arrogant leftist….

  9. BreatheFree says:

    It’s amusing reading comments from all the mental giants on here who think referring to Rachel as a male is so very clever, hahaha. That’s soooooo original and knee-slappingly funny, ner ner ner. You’re the same people who said “I don’t make garbage; I burn it” to a fellow 3rd grader and thought you were really getting one over on someone! I bet Rachel cowers in a corner every time someone targets her gender as their big zinger … because she’s NEVER heard it before and just from watching her show you can see how meek and easily intimidated she is, hahaha! Meanwhile, she and her team are conducting thorough research into what’s going on in our federal and state governments and helping people connect the dots. Mueller should hire her as an adviser.

  10. Kathy says:

    Nothing to do with Trump chaos… its the loss of Bill O’Reilly… which just so happened the same week.

    • John says:

      Not sure what you are breathing free but you might want to stop if this is an example of your state of mind. Ouch.

  11. Paula Murakami says:

    A DVD set including every relevant show starting from the beginning of the election coverage to the downfall of Trump’s regime would be a huge best-seller. I’d buy it!!

  12. Darlene Jones says:

    I LITERALLY depend n Rachel Maddow for political news! She explains things in a way that even just curious ppl can understand, & well informed ppl appreciate! THANKS RACHEL!! WE NEED & LOVE U!

    BIGHUG,
    DARLENE…62 yrold in NOLA

  13. Westy says:

    I hate to sound mean, but Rachel Maddow is a very nasty little man. He comes off as smug and condescending.

  14. pickles says:

    Unfortunately hate always wins. You think they would want to keep President Trump in office just for the ratings. Plus RM averages 3 mil whereas O’Reilly average 4 mil.

  15. Howie Beale says:

    You Drumpfers and your Day-Glo douche nozzle are the reason why we are taking advantage of our dual citizenship and heading permanently for the EU where 40% of the people are not braindead fools.

    • If they weren’t brain dead fools the EU would not exist you idiot. How much longer do you think the EU will be in existence? Why would you want to even hold a citizenship in a country of as you say “braindead fools”. ? Please go back to wherever you came from and do it quickly.

  16. Andy Gabo says:

    Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell make a great team – both are well researched and O’Donnell adds the insights of experience from inside conress from his years as an advisor to Senator Moynihan to Maddow’s scholarly analysis. However my current MSNBC favorite is Joy Reid who os so articulate and smart yet brings a ray of sunshime to even the most dire crises.

    • wek says:

      Lawrence O’Donnell may not survive the progressive purge from MSNBC.

      • Rosemarie Green says:

        Both of these people are opinion journalists! They create stories around a kernel of gossip, no research needed they simply pass it on just like the latest water cooler sensationalist. The juicier the better, what a way to get ratings! PLEASE…stop insulting the viewers, many do not know their own history! It’s like a reality show called the Left Wing Media Personalities. We need facts from the reporters, not eye rolls, side comments, jeering, ridiculing, mean spirited opinions. This is still America it used to stand for something better than this!!

  17. joanne says:

    Cannot stand this woman!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!111

  18. Karl MAGA says:

    This is a big nothing burger. A carefully selected segment of the overall viewership to TRY to spin it positive for the haters Meadow and PMSNBC.

    FOX is still number 1, as are the Republicans. Get over it, we won!

    “President Trump”; it has a nice sound to it!

  19. I would rather watch paint dry or water boil.

  20. Titubation says:

    Madsow day by day looking and talking more like Barney Frank.

  21. BobDR says:

    This is more a result of the disintegration of Fox News than anything else. Fox has become unwatchable. If you could bring back the Greta, O’Reilly, Kelly, and Hannity lineup they would dominate again!

  22. That is one ugly beyotch

  23. Mitch Rapp says:

    Snowflakes need a voice. He is theirs.

  24. Eagle in NYC says:

    Too funny.

    MSNBC is the fakest of fake news. They’re still prattling along, with feigned outré that the Russians suddenly did a 180˚ and supported TRUMP over their fellow traveler, Hillary. With absolutely NO EVIDENCE OF ANY KIND, ever since Podesta and Hillary first invented the excuse within 24-hours of November’s election. (Can’t blame the fall-down, worthless candidate herself, after all.)

    The Left were simpatico with the Russians since before the day of Uncle Joe Stalin. Bernie Sanders honeymooned in Moscow. Crooked Willy helped lead anti-American protests in Moscow during the Vietnam War. John Kerry held private meetings with the apparatchiks of the communist governments of USSR and North Vietnam, to conspire on how to defeat his own country in LBJ’s war. Hillary famously, ludicrously gave her Russian counterpart the misspelled “Reset” button when she first visited as Secretary of State. Obama famously told the Russian president off-mic that he would have more “flexibility” to unilaterally disarm American nuclear weapons once he was re-elected. Hillary sold Russia 20% of U.S. uranium for a $35 million payment to her slush fund in Little Rock. (Which now has to shutter because the pay-to-play corruption only worked if she could deliver as president.)

    The Murdoch brothers slaughtered their golden goose on the altar of pc madness, so they could attend cocktail parties and soirees unmolested by arrogant, violent Leftists who dominate the walled, liberal bastions in the West. Well guess what, you destroyed your money maker and the Left STILL hates you anyway.

  25. Sybil says:

    The ONLY reason Maddow is surging is because of the shake up over at FNC. It’s like the first five runners in a race falling and breaking their legs…obviously number six jumps to number one, so don’t let it go to your head, Variety.

  26. dentonfisk says:

    Why have certain programs shown odd increases in ratings like Madcow and The South Carolina Redneck? Auto-tune your TV to these shows before you go out drinking. Check the LGBT boards. These are the instructions. The gay mafia is driving the Trump frenzy. ‘News’ writers are gay, ‘news’ talking heads are gay, actors are gay. Rather than name them, it would be easier to name who is NOT gay because they are the minority in the entertainment and new media business.
    Obama’s singular achievement in 8 years was unleashing the homosexual mafia. Obama’s four year high school relationship with an adult homosexual drug dealer is one of the core building blocks of his life.
    Homosexuals are angry at everyone. They want revenge so this current psychotic behavior by Democrats is driven by the homosexual whip. Hillary and her 22 year sexual relationship with Huma was to be the next Obama. For Blacks, gay does not trump Black, so they did not turn out for Hillary. Five million illegal votes achieved with liberal allowances for driver’s licenses put her over the top on volume of votes but they were clustered in states like NY and CA.
    If you just read and watch The Mafia Media, you think Trump is a disaster. If you talk to the 64 million who voted for Trump and the 64 million who were eligible to vote but did not vote, you see Americans upset with the vile behavior of Democrats and their puppet masters in the media. You can cite polls and the entrenched establishment but you will find out that 2% of the population – no matter how whipped up they are, how disturbed, how violent, how auto-tuned to Madcow in empty apartments, and how threating they are – won’t matter. Only the ballot box will matter. At that time, Democrats will be removed from all contention on all federal, state, and county levels but big cities where Mafia violence and corruption still work.
    That’s it in brief. Keep up the insanity. It tells Americans who you are.

  27. Now bow before Media Matters Rach

  28. Switch234 says:

    Ratings are high and your still down 1,042 seats that is Federal, State and governorships down since 2009 Obama years. You lost the House, Senate and the Presidency but hey Ratings are up! :)

  29. ImaHippyBurning says:

    Pure Leftist “Group Think” Brilliance at it’s best! Whatever happened to “Critical Thinking” Oh, that’s right I forgot as long as your side is winning and everyone agrees with your twisted ideology Everything in the World is Fine!

  30. Cntrlfrk says:

    .
    Liberals need to keep their head buried deep in an echo chamber and Maddow is the perfect person to spoon feed them all the Fake News they desire to stroke their conspiracy theories about why America continues to reject ‘progressivism’

    ,

  31. jack says:

    I find it extremely interesting that people watch ‘her’ show. She preaches for an hour. For liberals who hate Christians this is very interesting to me.

  32. craigpurcell says:

    She would be considered to be the princess of the loyal opposition, right ?

  33. Tim says:

    Interesting seeing Maddow next to Roger Ailes on Drudge’s page this morning. I assume that’s where all the sexist haters are coming from in these comments.

    BUT, did you forget that Roger Ailes himself lamented not hiring Rachel Maddow? He admitted she’s a great talent and wished he had stolen her for Fox News. Look it up.

  34. George says:

    I really like this guy’s show. He’s very succinct in the way he makes his points. Kudos to Mr. Maddow for a job well done.

  35. Lori Turck says:

    Always loved watching Rachel. She gets to the point. She also is very bright and knows historical as well as current agendas. Congrats Rachel ! You deserve it!!!

  36. Fanboy says:

    File this article under fake news

  37. Lori Turck says:

    Always loved watching Rachel. So much energy and real news. Her intelligence gor historicsl facts and todays agenda cone through in her broadcast.

  38. Her popularity represents how leftists cling to their bibles and guns.

  39. Rudy says:

    She is the pillow biter. Pathetic loser.

  40. Obswa says:

    Madcow is just an echo chamber for the losers to go. It’s their safe place. Conservatives such as myself understand these things as Fox was our hangout the past 8 years. It’s okay. We understand your need.

  41. Mandy Lane says:

    She has a neck that only a giraffe could love.

  42. hellinahandbasket says:

    Tuning-in {specifically} to watch as the Leftist/Feminist-Cult implodes, is a far-cry from loyal-viewership.

  43. Obswa says:

    Libtards need to give it a rest and accept the fact they lost and are rejected by the voters.

  44. Eric says:

    That’s because people are dumb.

  45. Farmgirl says:

    Never watched her, never will!

  46. Janet K. says:

    Weird, absurd freak shows are very “in” right now. She is milking that reality to the Nth degree. It’s good to be a loud, nutty, bouncing-off-the-wall leftist perv right now.

  47. Mark Ritchie says:

    THE ONLY WAY THIS DOUCHBAG IS GOING HIGHER IS IF ONE OF HER LESBO FRIENDS HAS A JACK STUCK UP HER ASS

  48. How sad that ANYONE would be watching MSNBC or CNN or FOX and believing any of it. Real journalism in America is dead. It’s all just partisan talking heads who lie and spin. Wake up America.

  49. Lardbrick says:

    Same poll takers that Hillary was using to show she was leading during the election?? No one is watching mad cow for the news. Maybe to see what idiot thing she will say next, but not actual news because she is not credible.

  50. Why this woman is so popular is the reason shows like The View are-sensationalism and the cult of personality. She is over the top, inaccurate at times apologizing many times for misinformation, and a flaming Liberal opposed to practically anything conservative; but half the country is brain dead when it comes to issues and listen like department store dummies programed to clap at anything they hear without checking the facts.

    • Steve Z says:

      You are right about brain dead people – look how many still support the idiot in the White House. Not liking Rachel Maddow is fine, but relying on Fox “News” to get the real scoop is no different than The National Enquirer. Republicans have gone off the deep end since the days of Reagan and that is why I am no longer a member of the party. Give classified info to Russia? No problem! Fire the guy getting closer to exposing his Russia connection? No problem! Complain about how often Obama golfed, but then spend 1/3 of your time in office so far on the golf course? No problem! He has accomplished absolutely NOTHING since he has been in office and embarrasses this country hourly….not daily….hourly. Fox had to make things up about Obama to have something to say, but Trump provides MSNBC with material simply by being himself. You think MSNBC’s ratings are big now, just wait until the impeachment. Time to own this disaster of a presidency if you voted for this idiot. Rachel Maddow is not the problem. Trump and his flock are.

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