Ronan Farrow Hits the Road in Desperate Bid to Save Failing MSNBC Show

January 23rd, 2015 1:34 PM

Your show  is at the bottom of a cable network with lousy ratings. So what to do? Take the show that few watch out of the studio, put it on the road, and cross your fingers hoping that the format change will miraculously improve the ratings.

That is what is happening with the failed Ronan Farrow Daily (Dully) show on MSNBC. A show with such horrible ratings that TVNewser announced it was watched one Monday last December by only 13,000 people in the 25 to 54 demo during its time slot or less than a sixth of a typical football stadium. Improving Farrow's performance doesn't seem to be an option so according to Brian Steinberg at Variety, MSNBC wants to take those lousy interviewing skills out of the studio and onto the road:


Farrrow’s MSNBC program, “Ronan Farrow Daily,” has been dogged by cancellation rumors for months (though none of them have proven out) and that speculation that has been bolstered by the program’s decidedly lackluster ratings. But MSNBC has plans for the Rhodes Scholar and former Obama foreign policy official whose youth (he is under 30) and family background (he is the son of actress Mia Farrow) have brought an extreme degree of attention to his fledgling effort in the world of cable-news.

“It’s about diving in deep,” says Farrow during a recent interview while reporting in Paris. His goal is to travel to places where big stories erupt, then find underreported facets, like discovering individuals whose lives have been changed by the news. He really enjoys “finding the human piece to tell the bigger story and push forward the narrative,” he says.

Diving in deep? I leave it to the reader's imaginations to conjure up exactly what Ronan will probably be diving into but his shtick will be to travel all over the planet in what sounds like "Where In The World Is Ronan Farrow?"

MSNBC executives acknowledge Farrow’s daytime program has not won in the viewership game, but suggest they see potential, both for TV and for grabbing attention from viewers who watch the news in new ways.

Watching the news in new ways? Watching the news while drunk? Watching it while standing on our heads? Help me out here.

In 2013, according to the Pew Research Journalism Project, 82% of Americans said they got news on a desktop or laptop, while 54% said they got news on a mobile device. Pew said 35% reported that they get news in this way “frequently” on their desktop or laptop, and 21% from a mobile phone or tablet.

Oh, I get it now. Instead of being bored by Ronan on television, we can also be bored by him on our desktop, laptop, mobile phone, or tablet.

“We have to look beyond cable ratings,” says Izzy Povich, vice president of talent and development at MSNBC, in an interview, adding ,

"We have to look beyond cable ratings," is an oblique way of saying our ratings stink bigtime.

MSNBC’s plan sprouts alongside a January unveiling of a new streaming-video hub, Shift, which offers programming and personalities not typically seen on the cable outlet.

And be very careful to include all letters when writing about "Shift" despite the strong temptation to drop one.

Young Ronan now enlightens us with his deep thoughts about journalism which earned him a Walter Cronkite award about five minutes into his career:

The anchor says he’s just getting the opportunities he has craved after working hard to establish himself in a new milieu since the launch of his program last February. “It’s a completely hectic, makeshift process. You are building the airplane at the same time you are flying it,” he says of getting started on his own hour-long show. Even so, he’s had the same aspiration since he began on MSNBC: “I want to be on the ground and connecting with people, and I want that to really be reflected on the show.” Still, he acknowledges, “you can’t just jump into the deep end like that. You’ve got to earn your stripes.”

Ready for a shocker? The author of this article reveals that MSNBC tilts (GASP) liberal:

Farrow’s increased presence from sundry locales is part of a broader MSNBC strategy to get its anchors out from behind their desks and out to where news is breaking. The network, known for its tilt toward the liberal and progressive side of the political aisle, has seen ratings slump in recent months and has made strides to broaden the issues is tackles.

Broaden the issues it covers? How about broaden the perspectives of its hosts away from far left? Naw. That's too much to expect.

Finally, Ronan lets us know about the extreme travails of his low rated job:

Farrow intends to press forward. “It’s a lot of hard work getting into the nitty-gritty and talking to everyone and never sleeping and not really eating,” he notes. To stand out in the modern TV-news landscape, that level of activity may be de rigueur.

Exit question: Will the new on the road Ronan travel to Russia to give us an in-depth report about Muscovite Bronies?