Was Dropping Ronan Farrow a Mistake for MSNBC?

By Mark Joyella 

RonanFarrowDebutMonths ago, few would have argued that dropping Ronan Farrow from MSNBC’s afternoon lineup could possibly be a mistake. Farrow’s ratings-starved hour, Ronan Farrow Daily, had struggled for a year. In December, the show drew just 13,000 viewers in the demo–MSNBC’s worst ratings performance in the 1pmET timeslot since 2005. Two months later, the show bottomed out at 11,000 in the demo, and time ran out.

MSNBC announced on February 19 it would cancel Farrow’s show and The Reid Report, hosted by Joy Reid. The network replaced both shows with a two-hour block of news, anchored by Thomas Roberts, and in the first few weeks, ratings looked good–increasing 37% compared to Ronan Farrow Daily.

While much of the media coverage at the time focused on Farrow, describing him as an inexperienced cable news newcomer, a review of Nielsen data shows removing him hasn’t done much to fix the dayside problem for MSNBC.


Since the launch of MSNBC Live with Thomas Roberts, MSNBC has averaged just 38,000 viewers 25-54 in the 1 p.m. -3 p.m. ET timeslot, which represents a 16% decline from the last six months of Ronan Farrow Daily. The drop is even deeper than MSNBC’s overall dip of 12% compared to the same time period, but no better or worse than other MSNBC daytime shows. Ronan Farrow — and you — may be interested to know that on Friday, MSNBC Live drew just 10,000 viewers in the demo.

The network, however, remains fully committed to Roberts. “During just its first few months on air, MSNBC Live with Thomas Roberts has developed a strong reporting and rolling news format that is part of our larger strategy for creating a more news-focused dayside lineup,” an MSNBC spokesperson told TVNewser.