MSNBC ratings fall during Rachel Maddow’s once-a-week schedule

MSNBC ratings fall during Rachel Maddow’s once-a-week schedule

MSNBC’s key 9 p.m. ET primetime weeknight slot has been mired in a ratings slump since “The Rachel Maddow” show shifted to a once-per-week format, according to Nielsen data.

Since the start of the month, the left-leaning network has aired “MSNBC Prime” in the critical time slot four nights per week – with its star anchor Maddow taking the reins to host her show only on Mondays.

That shift has coincided with a downturn in MSNBC’s primetime ratings – especially among viewers in a key advertising demographic. “MSNBC Prime” has averaged about 1.2 million viewers since its debut on May 3, down from the 1.7 million viewers Maddow averaged on her show before the shift to a once-per-week broadcast.

Among adults aged 25-54, a key segment for advertisers, “MSNBC Prime is averaging just 114,000 viewers per night. That number is a 47% decline from Maddow’s average of 214,000 prior to the change.

Maddow’s once-per-week show has averaged about 2 million viewers since May 2, according to Nielsen data.

Despite the downturn, MSNBC’s ratings in the 9 p.m. hour have outpaced those of its main left-leaning rival CNN, which has lacked a permanent host in the same time slot since anchor Chris Cuomo’s abrupt firing in December.

Rachel Maddow
Rachel Maddow earns $30 million per year at MSNBC.
AP
Sean Hannity
Fox News’ Sean Hannity remains the ratings leader in the 9 p.m. hour.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

MSNBC has more than doubled CNN’s viewership on nights when Maddow’s show doesn’t air – with CNN averaging 572,000 total viewers from Tuesday through Friday during the period of May 2 to 22.

Meanwhile, Fox News’ “Hannity” has remained the ratings leader in the 9 p.m. hour, outpacing “MSNBC Prime” in the key advertising demo by 252% since the show’s debut.

Fox News was first to report on the downturn in MSNBC’s ratings for the key timeslot.

Rachel Maddow
MSNBC Prime has aired in Maddow’s old time slot four days per week.
AP

Maddow, who earns approximately $30 million per year under her current contract with MSNBC, took a weeks-long hiatus earlier this year.

When announcing the plan in late January, the longtime anchor said she would be dedicating time to other projects, including an upcoming film adaptation of her podcast “Bag Man,” which chronicles the downfall of disgraced Vice President Spiro Agnew in the early 1970s.

“This has been in the works for a while now, but it looks like it’s going to happen,” Maddow said at the time. “I am super excited about it and I am going to take a little bit of time off from this show to go help with the movie and also to work on some other things that I have cooking with NBC right now, including a new podcast.”

In April, Maddow revealed the shift to the one-per-week broadcast format.

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