Phil Griffin: Cable News ‘In a sort of flux’

By Alex Weprin 

This morning TVNewser attended a briefing to preview the new (more on that later), but while we were there, MSNBC president Phil Griffin decided to weigh in on the state of cable news, and of his own channel.

“There is no question that cable news in general is in a sort of flux,” Griffin said, leaning forward in his chair in the 51st floor boardroom. “Everyone is trying to figure out how to grow their audience, everybody is trying to sort of make changes to this new world, wherever we are in 2014, and figure out the future.

“Fox made their first lineup changes in 12 years, and the first multiple changes in their history, and CNN, you know, is doing a lot of different stuff to see if it works,” Griffin added. “I like where we are because I feel that we have a singular vision and we keep going deeper and deeper into that vision, and focusing on it.”

Griffin used the opportunity to tout the current programming (he called Chris Matthews’ move to 7 PM exclusively a “home run”) but also teased what to expect down the line from the channel.

“The great thing about where [MSNBC is] today is that people want to be here,” Griffin said. “We have Alec Baldwin debuting tonight at 10 o’clock, and I think that is a little different for us but I think it is a great fit, and we should be looking for opportunities to do some different stuff.

“In the months ahead you will see some announcements that will go along these lines, a little different for us, but fits the sensibility,” he added.

Griffin also talked about the channel’s ratings struggles earlier this year, once again citing the influx of breaking news, which boosted CNN and Fox. He also addressed the cable news primetime ratings this week, which saw MSNBC top Fox News in the demo for a number of hours Monday night, before being blown out of the water Tuesday night:

“Monday we had a really good day in the key demographic, on the night that Fox News debuted their three shows, we either tied or beat them in those hours,” Griffin said. “Tuesday–you guys should be doing some investigations–I have never seen it in all my years of cable, same overnight, same everything, and they doubled their ratings in a day? It is impossible.

“I have never seen it, they did election night numbers in the demo Tuesday,” he added. “Wednesday it came back down. I complained, I was like, what?”