As MSNBC’s Wagner Slips, CNN’s Tapper Sees Rise

By Mark Joyella Comment

Returning NBC honcho Andy Lack will have his hands full–most notably with the future of the network’s flagship newscast, “NBC Nightly News,” and its currently suspended anchor and managing editor, Brian Williams.

But there are other fires burning that will need immediate attention, and one of them is MSNBC, where ratings are down overall, and in some hours, the declines are worrisome. At 4 p.m., “Now with Alex Wagner” has a year-to-date average of just 51,000 viewers in the critical A25-54 demo. That represents a decline of -54% from the same period a year ago.

A television rule of thumb has it that shows dipping under 100k in the demo are considered at risk of cancellation. “Now” has not broken 100k in the demo since January 23. The show delivered a mere 15k in the demo on February 13, and 21k in the demo just last week, on March 6.

Even on nights of big news–like the January 26 Northeast blizzard, which sent overall cable viewing numbers up, Wagner was down, returning a 53k in the demo, compared to 219k for FNC’s Neil Cavuto, and 262k for CNN’s Jake Tapper. In terms of total viewers, Cavuto maintained his significant lead, 1,386,000 to Tapper’s 902,000 and Wagner’s 359,000.