MSNBC About All Things Live -- And News As Well?

Turn on the NBC cable news channel these days and most times -- during the day, anyway -- you’ll get this simple message: MSNBC Live.

You can see the “MSNBC” bug on screen in a white background next to the NBC peacock rainbow logo -- and on top of this graphic, the word “live.” And for most of its daytime hours, there are no program names -- just the words “MSNBC Live," which is how programming is listed in all program guides.

New MSNBC leadership from Andrew Lack wants to turn the cable TV channel’s long-time focus from primarily commentary/opinion to news, plain and simple.

This is a work in progress. “MSNBC Live” may just be a place holder for stuff yet to appear.  Reports suggest this doesn’t just mean new programs but perhaps a total channel name change as well.

CNN has tried to play this middle ground for years, not leaning to the political left or right, just focusing on news. That said, it, too, realizes that it needs to change. Recently it has gone for a more sensationalistic/entertainment approach to specific news events.



In MSNBC’s favor: the coming of the big political season when all cable TV news networks typically see benefits. And then there is Donald Trump, who seems to be lifting a lot of boats -- cable news boats, that is, including Fox News, CNN and MSNBC.

But do viewers really want just news? Or do they still want to hear opinions that sound like their opinions?

Maybe TV consumers want to feel like they are getting news, while getting the opinions they really want. This is the trap cable networks have been in for some time: a TV news drug of opinion that's tough to avoid.

4 comments about "MSNBC About All Things Live -- And News As Well?".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, August 31, 2015 at 4:35 p.m.

    The problem that NBC faces with MSNBC is very simple. If it alters the cable news channel's orientation towards straight news and drops its hard left wing political bent, then it is opting to compete with CNN and, to a much lesser extent, with Headline News. But both of these are dwarfed in the average minute ratings by the strongly right tilted Fox News Channel. So even if MSNBC--or whatever they call it---grabs 200,000 viewers per minute from CNN, it will still be way,way,way behind Fox.

    Were I advising NBC, and purely from an audience getting standpoint, not political persuasion or bias, the obvious solution is to go, more or less, directly against Fox, which has such a huge lead in the ratings, with a conservative tilted lineup of primetime subject selections, hosts and visiting comentators, but still maintaining some straight news hours, as Fox tries to do, in the daytime and early evenings and on weekends. Of course, that is an unpalatable idea for NBC, which is hardly a right wing outfit, so that option wont fly.

    Will MSNBC do better in the ratings with Brian Williams and more "straight news" coverage? Probably. But mainly at CNN's expense, not Fox's----leaving the latter firmly in control of the rating race. And, maybe, that's all that NBC really wants and expects----a somewhat respectable second place finish.

  2. Rick Thomas from MediaRich Marketing replied, August 31, 2015 at 4:53 p.m.

    I agree with you Ed.  I think some conservative competition against FOX News is a brilliant strategy.  They have had solid ratings for too long with no one even nipping at their heels. 

    Problem would be finding talent.  I mean really good conservative talent.  MS would have to blow out just about every person on- air now, probably blow out a lot of management behind the scenes as well and even change their sales and marketing teams as many would no doubt not want to sell or market that type of content.

    What is on the air now well I hope is temporary.  It's pretty bland.  With abolutely zero energy.  But to build another conservative network would be a real challenge and I don't think NBC wants to go down that path even though FOX News is a ratings juggernaut.

  3. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, September 1, 2015 at 9:33 a.m.

    Rick, one "talent" that the new MSNBC could use against fox might be Donald Trump, especially if he doesn't get the GOP presidential nomination.

  4. Rick Thomas from MediaRich Marketing replied, September 1, 2015 at 2:32 p.m.

    As much as I consider Donald Trump a buffoon and an insult to the political process I second your nomination.  People certainly would watch.  Not sure NBC could weather the storm that would brew from advertisers but it sure is a way to increase viewership. 

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