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

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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