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After Ratings Tumble, MSNBC to Debut Left-Wing, Internet-Based Shows

After Ratings Tumble, MSNBC to Debut Left-Wing, Internet-Based Shows

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After failing at the ratings game on cable, left-wing cable news network MSNBC plans to take its “progressive sensibilities” to a series of some 14 new Internet-based shows on topics ranging from the gay lifestyle, to politics, to journalist navel gazing, and even sports. The new Internet network will be called “MSNBC Shift.”

MSNBC’s ratings have kept it in near perpetual third place, behind CNN and far behind ratings leader Fox News. At times, even HLN, CNN’s old Headline News station, has beaten MSNBC in the ratings game.

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In fact, MSNBC’s third quarter ratings hit a record low with every one of its shows falling into the bottom of the cable ratings.

MSNBC chief Phil Griffin has been quick to note that his network isn’t the only one to slip in ratings, but the liberal network’s fall has been more dramatic than the others. In October, The New York Times reported that MSNBC averaged 392,000 key demo viewers per night in the first quarter of 2009. With this year’s third quarter, that number is down to 125,000, representing a loss of two-thirds of MSNBC’s total audience.

Hoping to save his network, MSNBC boss Griffin is trying something new. The left-wing network will begin airing new shows that will appear only on the Internet in hopes of appealing to a new generation of viewers that are becoming more focused on the Internet than they are on the Big Three TV networks or cable.

The new shows will air in the morning so as not to compete with its cable primetime shows.

Griffin announced some of those new shows will be “The Briefing,” a political program hosted Monday and Fridays by Luke Russert, a tech show called “Code Forward,” a financial show titled “Three Cents,” and a sports show to be called “Left Field.”

MSNBC reporter Beth Fouhy will host a show called “Reporter’s Notebook,” which promises to take viewers “behind the scenes” with Fouhy as she writes her stories. Yet another show will feature MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts who will host an LGBT show titled “Out There.” MSNBC anchor Krystal Ball will also host a show catering to young, left-wing women called “Krystal Clear.”

There will also be environmentalist shows, policy wonk shows, and a show on books.

MSNBC execs hope that some of these new shows will become popular enough online that they can migrate to the main cable network.

Griffin says that “Shift” represents “a way to innovate, do things differently and find out what works.”

“I don’t want to call it a farm system. It’s a place where we get to experiment, and I guarantee you, stuff is going to pop,” he said.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at igcolonel@hotmail.com.


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