TVNewser scoops with news that MSNBC is planning running tape Friday nights for the next five weeks instead of Live and Direct, Scarborough Country, and The Situation. According to Rick Kaplan’s internal memo this is all supposed to be a good thing….
As we go into this important period leading up to the Olympics, we’re going to air some of the great taped programming we run on weekend nights. Scott Hooker and his team have done great work with these programs and we want to give our weeknight viewers the opportunity to see them. For these five weeks, Rita, Joe and Tucker will contribute to our other primetime shows on Fridays and will be on stand-by in case of breaking news. This opportunity will also give their terrific teams a chance to get a jump on the week ahead.
Does anyone really buy this? As a programming move it makes no sense at all. MSNBC Investigates may deliver higher numbers on the weekends and that may be the thinking behind this Friday tryout but from a PR standpoint it’s another black mark on MSNBC’s reputation as a “must see” news network that competes with CNN and FNC. And it makes even less sense if this is just a temporary thing as Kaplan says it is. You can’t build traction in four to five weeks.
And are the staffs of these shows so burdened that they need a four day show week to be able to do a better job? Kaplan makes it sound like they are. And I don’t buy the wanting to give weeknight viewers a chance to see these shows. They probably already have seen these shows since they’ve been repeated so many times before on the weekends.
This sounds more like another cost cutting move to help out NBC. I don’t get it. MSNBC started turning profitable in 2004. It’s NBC’s Entertainment Wing that’s dragging everything down. But NBC News and MSNBC have to pay for NBC Entertainment’s failings. Let us count the ways in which MSNBC is now paying…
1. Cut live news by two hours weekdays and doubled up on The Abrams Report and Hardball which normally air taped during their repeat show.
2. Altered the format of live news from 12-4, tossing out interviews and analysis and substituting a boring HLN like wheel format which screams “Change the channel!” to anyone wanting something comparative to or better than CNN or FNC.
3. Gut Friday primetime by airing tape instead of their live Primetime programs which MSNBC has been promoting constantly as the best primetime lineup in all of cable news. I guess now they need to put an asterisk up that says “*-only M-Th”.