MSNBC will move Tucker Carlson’s new show, The Situation with Tucker Carlson, from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m., replacing it with Rita Cosby’s new show.
The live program has averaged 201,000 total viewers and 82,000 viewers 25-54 since its June 13 premiere, significantly less than its competition in the timeslot on the other news networks, Fox News’ Hannity & Colmes and CNN’s Larry King Live.
The show is also lower rated than MSNBC’s average in the timeslot for the month before it premiered, when the network had aired a mix of programs that drew 267,000 total viewers and 99,000 viewers 25-54.
In February 2005, Carlson was a big hire for MSNBC President Rick Kaplan, who joined the NBC news network in February 2004.
The move had all the earmarks of a downgrade, but Kaplan and Carlson saw it differently.
Kaplan and Carlson told B&C they created Carlson’s program to air at 11 p.m., saying its fast pace and subject-driven debate are better suited for late-night, and maintain they would have moved the show regardless of its ratings once they had another suitable program to schedule at 9 p.m.
New program Rita Cosby: Live and Direct will take the 9 p.m. slot beginning Aug. 8. Cosby joined MSNBC from Fox News June 13.
Carlson said he wanted to do a late-night show for years and cited not having one at CNN as a main reason for leaving the network.
Carlson and Kaplan also say paying to produce a first-run live show at 11 p.m., rather than taking the cheaper and more efficient route of rerunning a program from earlier in the schedule, as their competitoin does, will lure new viewers from Fox News and CNN and offer something fresh at 8 p.m. for West Coast viewers, 20% of MSNBC’s audience.
"[Networks] have done what’s financially pleasing and rerun their schedules and lived with it," Kaplan said. "We decided to be more aggressive."
He also points out that the move with make MSNBC the only cable news net with a live 11 p.m. show, and the only one doing six hours of first-run programming in prime.
Crosby’s new news program will be more story-driven and thus better suited for earlier in the evening, Kaplan said.