MSNBC’s Phil Griffin On 60% Black Audience Gain In 2012: ‘People Want To Know That We Reflect Their World’

Source: Tommy Christopher / Mediaite

2012 was a very good year for cable news, with a presidential election that generated huge public interest, and a brightly-lit media landscape that cranked out content to a voracious audience. While Fox News remained the number one cable news network, and CNN performed well on breaking news stories, MSNBC had a lot to brag about in 2012. The network enjoyed significant (around 20%) ratings increases across the board, but made astonishing gains with their already-large African American audience, growing that audience by 60.5% for the Mon-Sun 8pm-11pm period. MSNBC President Phil Griffin told me, in a phone interview, that he is “thrilled” with that result, and that it “says a lot about what we’ve been doing over the last few years.”

In that same time period, CNN grew its black audience by 23.7%(from 131,000 in 2011 to 162,000 in 2012, 23.9% of their total audience) , while Fox News’ declined by 23.7% (38,000 in 2011 to 29,000 in 2012, 1.4% of their total audience), but MSNBC had more black viewers than both of those nets combined (from 177,000 in 2011 to 284,000 in 2012, 31.4% of their total audience). What’s more impressive is that MSNBC attained 60% growth after being number one in that demographic last year, and the year before.

“This has been steady growth for us for some time,” Griffin noted. “I think we made a commitment, we decided, that in order for this channel to succeed, that we had to reflect the country. This meant that we had to be part of the country in ways that the other channels weren’t.”

Part of that commitment, according to Griffin, is the “look” of the channel. ”We have a diverse on-air group of people,” Griffin said, “because that matters, and people want to know that we reflect their world. And it’s not just a single show – its across the board. You look at the guests every hour and we make sure that we have women, African Americans, everything, and I think to spend a day watching MSNBC is to see America as we have seen it.”

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