Yesterday, MSNBC’s The Ed Show devoted almost its entire program to Michael Jackson’s memorial service, and their decision paid off for the most viewers for the show since it debuted in April. Tuesday’s show had 864,000 total viewers which is almost 120,000 more than host Ed Schultz’s previous high.
The Ed Show has not lived up to the expectations of MSNBC executives who thought that the program would sustain and build off of its debut number of 725,000 total viewers. Instead the show has settled into averaging 500,000-600,000 viewers a night, while this represents an improvement over the previous occupant of the 6 pm (ET) time slot, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. with David Shuster, it has not been close to challenging the competition at CNN and FNC.
On Tuesday, Schulz had 348,000 viewers age 25-54, and 854,000 total viewers. This was good enough for third place behind CNN’s 2.4 million total viewers and FNC’s 2.1 million viewers. Interestingly, Schultz only spent nine minutes on politics last night, as the program was dominated by Michael Jackson coverage.
CNN should be doing cartwheels because they have gone from fourth place, even behind Headline News in prime time, to being the ratings leader. CNN won every time period last night with the exception of The O’Reilly Factor at 8 pm. Even O’Reilly was pushed by normal CNN ratings basement dweller Campbell Brown who drew 2.3 million views compared to O’Reilly’s 3.4 million. (For the usually dominant O’Reilly a 1.2 million viewer gap is about as close as it gets).
As far as The Ed Show is concerned, the show’s viewership numbers did not improve despite the almost nightly Jackson coverage. I think the bump they got on Tuesday night was a onetime only increase. I believe that The Ed Show is what it is, and probably will always draw 500,000-600,000 viewers a night, but I still believe that 6 pm isn’t the best time for a host like Schultz.
MSNBC might be better off running something else at 6 pm, and moving Schultz to 10 pm ET. The Ed Show would be better off following Rachel Maddow, then languishing at dinnertime when people are either still at work or just getting home. There is also the possibility that Ed Schultz is more suited to radio, or that his personality isn’t a good fit for television.