After a strong debut, MSNBC’s The Ed Show struggled in the ratings, but something interesting began to happen last week. Ed Schultz has been picking up viewers. His show has been tweaked, and he still isn’t even close to Fox News, but The Ed Show is starting to grow.
On Friday April 17, The Ed Show only had 95,000 views age 25-54, which was last behind Headline News. In total viewers Schultz was next to last with 365,000 total viewers. The show had been slipping and struggling to find an audience, but things started to pick up on the following Monday, as Schultz had 173,000 25-54 viewers, and 555,000 total. His lowest number of total viewers last week was 472,000. His best number came yesterday, with 581,000 total viewers.
Schultz’s low point with viewers age 25-54 was 125,000 viewers over the past week. Schultz is now starting to hold and occasionally exceed the number of 25-54 viewers of its lead in Hardball. The changes that have been made to The Ed Show appear to be working. One of the criticisms of the early shows was that listening to Ed Schultz rant and rave like the liberal Lou Dobbs was really boring, so the show added panels and more guests.
The focus of the program’s content has also shifted. Schultz still covers his pro-union issues, but the majority of the show is given over to the news of the day. The psycho talk segment is a big hit, and in general the show seems to have more rhythm. I think what the people behind this show are figuring out is that a show about Ed Schultz isn’t very appealing. Schultz is more Matthews than Olbermann, and I can see some similarities between The Ed Show and Hardball.
The Ed Show can’t be qualified as a success yet, but it represents an improvement if it can draw the high end of the former show 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. numbers on a nightly basis. There has also been an improvement in the quality of guests on the show, but the game show set still needs to go. Schultz seems to be getting more comfortable in front of the camera, but this show has a long way to go.
The program had one evening since it debuted where it drew less than 100,000 total viewers. If the numbers would have stayed that low, the axe would have certainly fallen. Ed Schultz still isn’t the most comfortable host to watch, but neither is Chris Matthews.
MSNBC would probably be happy if The Ed Show kept and expanded on Hardball’s viewers, and if it could finish second behind Fox News at 6 PM. Schultz is accomplishing the first goal, and little by little he is inching up on CNN. Schultz isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but at least his show is making progress.