The Washington Post’s Jeremy Barr recently profiled MSNBC president Rashida Jones, as the executive tries to figure out how to capture younger viewers.
According to Barr, a number of MSNBC’s stars have volunteered to branch out into the streaming space, a big focus for Jones since she became network president back in February. Nicolle Wallace is in discussions about a new Peacock show.
“It’s not us going to them. They see where the audience is going. … It’s also a place where you can experiment a little bit,” Jones told the Post.
Jones has her work cut out. At 40, she is the youngest president of a major TV news outlet, but her network’s average viewer, according to Barr (who cites Nielsen data), is now 68, four years older than CNN. That’s up from a median age of 65 in 2017.
“I would very much like to have more people watch us on every brand, but I also want to make sure we’re going to where people are already consuming,” Jones told the Post.
At least one industry analyst feels cable news’ desire to attract young people is a bit of a lost cause:
Streaming may be where the young people are, but industry analyst Brad Adgate questioned whether the MSNBC brand — or the CNN or Fox brand — still resonates with them. “There’s just a lot of choices that younger people have,” he said.
Frankly, Adgate is probably right. That said, CNN is one cable newser that has had some success with attracting younger viewers in untraditional ways. Its critically-acclaimed Original Series—nonfiction programming with a strong news peg that for years has aired in weekend prime—traditionally skew younger than anchored news programming. MSNBC, on the other hand, showed re-runs of Dateline in weekend prime for a while before transitioning into anchored news programming towards the end of the Trump presidency. Perhaps MSNBC could look into developing more politics-focused original series for that daypart. One way of catching a younger demo’s attention.
Just a thought.