Sunday, March 8, 2015

Desperate MSNBC Frantically Grabs Corporate "Keep Away" Policy

MSNBC Suicide Attempt:
Maddow Survives, Unhurt

We all understand how desolately "embarrassing" things have become for the MSNBC network. However, these are the easily predictable developments when disparate "clutches" of widely varied television characters and their correspondingly widely varied network shows are shoe horned together, utterly willy nilly, into a "thing" which is then marketed as a fledgling network of some sort.

It became fairly clear -- in hindsight -- that the the MSNBC "line up" had become primarily just the coincidental" conglomeration of incoherent broadcast "assets" -- mainly what we might call "bargains" -- which could be purchased while staying within some sort of poorly planned, inadequate fragment of a corporate budget. Now that the poor creature has undertaken what Michael Valentine Smith famously referred to as "voluntary self-dissolution," there remain an unsurprisingly large number of open seats available on the mourning pew at the corporate wake.
NBC Headquarters [image]

The revelation of the "public secret" that 80% of the network's viewers cordially hated "wing-nut lite," Joe Scarborough, was only the beginning. Moments later even the most mentally superficial pundits had locked onto the network's strangely mature "identity crisis." Not even geriatric MeanMesa can remember a violent "market correction" this brutally rapid in recent history.

The ironic side of this was that apparently almost everyone except the MSNBC executives had already made this "market correction" before the top floor guys even had a clue.

Perhaps the MSNBC executives never ventured forth beyond the confines of their management suite "echo chambers" to actually ask anyone what network shows they were watching -- or not watching. Now that these three piece suit types are sweeping the bolts and fenders of the thing into dust pans, what began as an impressively reserved, Stoic corporate grief rapidly has become a particularly pathetic corporate panic.

They stopped briefly at the "scheduling desk" on their way to their 10th floor window ledges to attempt to juggle what was left into some sort of TV Guide presence, but by this time the morbidly pungent aroma -- an odor reminiscent of a rotting Air America -- was wafting through the hall ways at 30 Rockefeller Center, NBC UNIVERSAL head quarters.

The "Jewels" -- and the Lessons
Hidden in the Corporate Wreckage
Another "thing" they didn't notice?

A month ago MSNBC was broadcasting a awkward collection of absolute detritus interspersed with a "sprinkling" of fairly watchable offerings. Once the "wood chips" of the network's day time line up had completed their tedious daily journey to the television ash can, prime time viewers could tune into a week day sequence of much more palatable content: Chris Matthews, Chris Hayes, Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O'Donnell.

However, not all of these prime time "anchors" were "created equal." While they may all be interesting and informative, MSNBC has been curiously reluctant to acknowledge the potential ratings' "power driver" embedded in this prime time crowd.


Dr. Rachel Maddow, PhD, [image -POLITICUSUSA]
It doesn't take long to "notice" an unavoidably obvious "quality" difference between Maddow and the high schoolers in the FOX gang or, in fact, between Maddow and the corporate, alphabet networks' thousand dollar suit "talking heads" gang, either. 

MeanMesa is a BIG Rachel Maddow Show fan and used to be a daily viewer. That "used to be" part presents the topic which is the point of this posting. We'll deal with that part of the story shortly.

Maddow has credentials -- the caliber of credentials one might consider extremely well suited for someone intending to seriously host a talk show dealing with politics and policies.

Stanford University, Public Policy, 1994
John Gardner Fellowship
Rhodes Scholarship
Lincoln College, Oxford, PhD, Politics, 2001

The "Used To Be A Daily Viewer" Part
As promised...

What strange corporate behavior has precipitated such an abnormal "series of events" which have  served to "inspire" a tiny, high desert blog to "pick up this story?"

Let's begin this sordid tale a year ago, but, relax, the account of that first year will be rather "brief."

A year ago MeanMesa was a DISH subscriber and had contracted to use DISH cable services primarily because the DISH offering included MSNBC, and consequently, The Rachel Maddow Show. Every week day at 7:00 P.M. the fourteen year old Toshiba television in the living room at Short Current Essays Galactic Headquarters was tuned to MSNBC and Rachel.

Crystal Skull Protection Kit [image]
However, through the time that MeanMesa had relied on DISH cable for this service, the monthly bill had "crept up" to more than double what it was when the contract was signed, over $80 per month. Of course the DISH contract provided all sorts of other "television possibilities," in fact, a veritable "home entertainment extravaganza" of hundreds of channels.

Among this vast offering of "valuable DISH channels" was the typical collection of 30 or so channels of endlessly repeating FOX fear and terror "expose' shows," 50 or more "dirty shirt preachers" asking for donations, dozens of vacuum cleaner salesman, a handful of essentially useless, traditional alphabet networks and, of course, the Brazilian Power Crystal channel.

Needless to say, MeanMesa's very definitely "limited income" was having more and more of a problem with the continually increasing $80 per month DISH bill. The painful decision was taken that DISH -- and daily access to The Rachel Maddow Show -- had to go.

Oh sure, there was a little "getting used to it" involved, but one of MeanMesa's students found a one-day-delay podcast site which would very dependably provide yesterday's Maddow show on the old LINUX in the upstairs Galactic Headquarters office. [This site, CASTROLLER, still provides the first part of the show daily -- usually 15 minutes or so -- on a one day delay, of course.]

MSNBC's "Trip to the
High Altitude NBC Woodshed"
Try to just gaze down at the clouds and remain calm...

Unhappily, still quite shaken by the "network's suicide attempt," the MSNBC executives were hauled in to see the NBC "big boys" in their palatial offices on the fiftieth floor. It would be quite unrealistic to presume that the content of this atmospheric meeting was intended to reassure and comfort the MSNBC crew in their hour of need.

No, instead it seems that the NBC heavies had just then, finally, noticed that the corporation's little, experimental spawn from downstairs had not only not been producing ratings, but -- horreur soudaine -- had also not been producing profits!

Something HAD to be done!

Predictably, that "something" began with expelling all the MSNBC line up that wasn't "pulling its ratings weight." Happily, this part of the NBC tantrum began with Joe Scarborough. But it continued, and when most of the blood had dripped off the lavish NBC executive conference room table, and the smoke and feathers had been unceremoniously sucked down the sky scraper's powerful exhaust ventilation duct, only MSNBC's vulnerable, "picked clean" skeleton of prime time shows remained as viable ratings assets on the corporate chopping block.

Those prime time "survivors" -- Chris Matthews, Chris Hayes, Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O'Donnell -- had to begin doing the "yoeman's work" of turning a profit for the whole company amid the wreckage. The remainder of MSNBC's motley staff of confused and frightened employees were left staggering around in the production studios with a suddenly shocking, corporately "expendable" feeling.

Exactly Who Owns Tomorrow's News?
How About Yesterday's Analysis?
NBC monetizes the "one day delay."
They may decide to monetize more days than that.

On the very day that all this occurred millions of Americans with the same sorts of "fixed incomes" that MeanMesa enjoys were watching yesterday's episode of The Rachel Maddow Show on after market podcast sites such as CASTROLLER. Further, literally millions of these "fixed income" Maddow fans had made a decision similar to the one made by MeanMesa and cancelled their cable contracts.

With the month in and month out expenditure for cable services eliminated from these "fixed income" budgets, the corresponding "dinner menus" in all these "fixed income" homes had gradually moved beyond tuna casseroles depressing "disguised weenie recipes" into delicious dishes containing "meat with a name." The only price demanded for this remarkable improvement in the standard of living amounted to simply being satisfied with watching Rachel on the day after all the high rollers who could afford cable had seen her.

Once one became accustomed to the delay, the whole matter had begun to exude a quite congenial aura of "class separation."

After all, once MSNBC had broadcast Rachel through the cable channels, there was the idea that the episode had, in some sense, become the "public domain." The podcast sites didn't even leave the prime time show's commercials in their "one day delay" content. Although MeanMesa had not been particularly bothered by these commercials during the time Rachel was being delivered by the cable provider ["The rocks come with the farm..."], their absence in the "one day delay" pod casts amounted to an "added bonus."

The "fixed income" crowd couldn't afford to buy most of the products being advertised, anyway.

Well, the frenzied NBC "profit hounds" picked up the scent of a "not particularly plump" chicken right away. The "profit recovery" scheme they hatched is, well, stunning.

The "one day delay" pod casts were to be crushed.

Forget the "once broadcast becoming public domain" idea immediately. Anyone without a cable contract was to be excluded from Rachel's viewing audience, and this was to not only include watching Rachel's show when it was being broadcast, it would also include watching what had been broadcast even a day or a week earlier.

Instead, there would be "cherry picked" teasers, incoherently selected show segments, presented on an inoperative MSNBC corporate web site. It became clear immediately that these "segments" were being "selected" by the profit searching NBC heavies from "upstairs." MeanMesa has no way of knowing if the exceptionally shoddy corporate web site is the progeny of mere technical incompetence or intentionally prepared to further dissuade "non-cable contract" viewers from ever catching so much as a passing glance of Rachel. [You can visit this site for yourself: MSNBC/The Rachel Maddow Show]

One suspects the latter.

Unfortunately, unless you have cable,
the key is useless.
Now, you may notice a spot on this screen labeled as "watch entire episode." This sounds like a good idea, right? It will sound especially good if you have already tried to load, manage and navigate the "teaser segments" shown on the "menu." Let's just say that the thing was "not built for speed" -- or  any sort of convenience.

If, however, you decide to foolishly select "watch entire episode," you will soon be staring at these screens. The "key" thing is telling you that you will have to "unlock" access to yesterday's -- or last week's -- show by providing MSNBC with the name of your cable provider. Class warfare-wise, this process will begin with you proving to MSNBC  that you have a cable provider -- the site will then "check" to make certain that you are not illegally trying to access a "very valuable something" that MSNBC  broadcast yesterday.

Those atmospheric NBC types know that "you just can't be too careful with those unwashed masses of little people."

Trying to "Harvest the Free Loaders"
What is the MSNBC Strategy?
How did they decide to do the opposite?

It turns out that it becomes rather awkward to play "keep away" with a cable television show after it has been repeatedly broadcast on a national cable network. Yes, the arrangements made to electronically accommodate the content feed to the "one day delay" pod casters' sites can be curtailed, but this country -- and this television audience -- is brim full of remarkably clever hackers.

If all else fails, how about a video camera on a tripod standing in front of your high resolution flat screen?

The shows ratings are an "embarrassment of riches." The Rachel Maddow Show now trumps every competitor except Hannity, and one part of the reason explaining this is that the Maddow show is "accessible" to curious samplers with the prospect of becoming regular viewers.

WIKI summarizes the show's success at drawing audience. [Excerpted. Read the entire article  here - WIKI]

The Rachel Maddow Show debuted on September 8, 2008, with 1,543,000 viewers (483,000 of whom were in the 25–54 demographic). Early reviews for her show were mostly positive. Los Angeles Times writer, Matea Gold stated that Maddow, "finds the right formula on MSNBC", while The Guardian writes Maddow has become the "star of America's cable news". Associated Press columnist, David Bauder called her Keith Olbermann's "political soul mate" and referred to the Olbermann/Maddow shows as a two-hour "liberal ... block." The New York Times writer Alessandra Stanley opined: "Her program adds a good-humored female face to a cable news channel whose prime time is dominated by unruly, often squabbling schoolboys; Ms. Maddow's deep, modulated voice is reassuringly calm after so much shrill emotionalism and catfights among the channel's aging, white male divas".

On September 16, 2008, the show drew 1,801,000 viewers (with 534,000 in the 25–54 demographic), beating Larry King Live and becoming the highest-rated MSNBC show of the night. Maddow's ratings success on September 16, 2008 prompted many of her MSNBC colleagues on Morning Joe to congratulate her on the air, including Joe Scarborough, who said it was "just one of those times where good people do well." In the month of March 2009 the average number of viewers dropped to 1.1 million, part of a general trend in the ratings decline for cable news programs. During the third quarter of 2009, the show was ranked in third place behind Fox News's Hannity and CNN's Larry King Live. The average total number of viewers for the show's airtimes during this period was 992,000.

During the first quarter of 2010, Maddow's show pulled well ahead of Larry King Live, regularly beating the show in overall and prime time ratings, becoming the second highest-rated program in its time slot, behind only Fox News's Hannity. The show continued its lead during the second quarter of 2010, staying well ahead of CNN's Larry King Live for the third consecutive quarter, and topping the show in both prime time and overall ratings.


In November 2013, during the off-year election coverage, Maddow was "up significantly, averaging second place in both measures with 1.267 million viewers and 313,000 adults 25-54." This placed the Maddow Show second, running behind Fox News' Megyn Kelly, but ahead of CNN's Piers Morgan Live.

MSNBC is almost certainly drawing revenue from all of the cable providers "popping up" on the network's web site menu, but those revenues are from charges for the network providing "same day" content. Finding a means to include the "one day delay" crowds in those audience ratings would boost Maddow well above most of the FOX reactionaries now offering competition for audience standing.

Ratings-wise, the "one day delay" crowd represents a significant potential resource for MSNBC if it were managed properly. The NBC stockholders are being quite reasonable when they expect this quality of management. Further, MSNBC's management "mechanism" for accomplishing this is hardly rocket science!

Shutting them out with these corporate road blocks doesn't seem to be the "best use" of this available resource. Apparently, lurking just beyond the mental "business frontiers" of the NBC corporate puppet masters is the unavoidable conclusion that the "one day delay" crowd wouldn't bat an eye at the prospect of watching a few commercials.

Public opinion has demonstrated a resurgence in its "motility." One need look no further than what has transpired with opinion about same sex marriage to see an example of the moribund "inertial myopia" of those whose business relies on staying aligned with public sentiments about all sorts of things.

At the moment the corporate media's directors are clearly still suffering under the false flag which emerged with the success of throw backs such as Limbaugh. After the oligarchs had bought control of thousands of broadcasters across the country, installing an essentially unmarketable monstrosity such as Limbaugh, they proceeded to make the claim that the show's popularity -- and the reactionary message of the man's narrative -- were firmly established merely by the fact that it was appearing on so many stations.

Limbaugh's "shine" is now headed for the public ratings ditch. The message is clear. Progressives constitute the audience of tomorrow.

Get with the program, MSNBC.

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