MSNBC is reshuffling its prime-time slate. Earlier today, the network announced that Ed Schultz would be taking over the 8 p.m. slot, with Lawrence O’Donnell—whose show The Last Word currently occupies that hour—moving to 10 p.m.
The decision to change the prime-time lineup at MSNBC comes amidst a dismal month for O’Donnell, whose total viewership fell 22 percent in September, with the show’s target 25-54 demographic dropping 35 percent in that period. Schultz, on the other hand, saw his total ratings climb 13 percent in September, up 17 percent from the same time last year.
“This move will strengthen the flow of our programming throughout the evening,” network president Phil Griffin said in a statement announcing the change. “As the name implies, The Last Word belongs at the conclusion of our programming day, thoughtfully wrapping up the day’s political dialogue. . . . Ed’s passionate voice is a perfect kickoff to prime-time at 8 p.m.”
MSNBC also finds itself battling a new competitor in the cable news space, as Current TV has been ramping up its own prime-time offerings. Just last week, Current TV announced the premiere of a 9 p.m. show hosted by former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm called The War Room, bringing the network's weeknight news and analysis slate up to three hours (with Cenk Uygur’s The Young Turks at 7 p.m. and Keith Olbermann’s Countdown at 8 p.m.) and putting unprecedented pressure on MSNBC to compete for liberal cable news viewers.