Published November 15, 2013
LOS ANGELES – With a stalker trial and repeated run-ins with the paparazzi, Alec Baldwin can't keep his name out of the news. Unfortunately for him, the notoriety doesn't seem to be translating into ratings for his MSNBC chat show. Despite heavy marketing and lots of build-up buzz, "Up Late with Alec Baldwin" is having trouble maintaining audience interest.
According to Deadline.com, Baldwin’s most recent show hit a demo low, pulling in only 101,000 viewers 25-54 against 395,000 total viewers. The demo number represents a 41 percent drop from the 172,000 adults aged 25-54 who watched the one-hour program's October 11 debut. The episode’s total viewership did however register a slight boost from the previous episode, which ranked as the program’s low, with 354,000.
“His reception as a talk show host is similar to those of Chevy Chase, Craig Kilborn, Keenan Ivory Wayans and Magic Johnson,” Gene Grabowski, VP of Levick Strategic Communications, told FOX411. “All of them failed to successfully transfer their charisma and fans from one genre to another.”
By comparison, Sean Hannity's new 10pm Fox News Channel show has seen a 24 percent boost in viewership since its October 11 premiere, with a recent episode clocking in just under 1.8 million viewers.
“What celebrities don’t realize about talk shows is that, one, they aren’t easy to do and two, viewers judge them mostly on the nature of the content, not on how famous a person the host is,” explained media critic John Ziegler. “If you have nothing interesting to say then viewers will quickly tune out. It is also a very bad time for liberal programming in general. You can’t blame George Bush anymore, the thrill is gone.”
Baldwin first developed and pitched his show to parent company NBC. Given that they didn’t have a slot for the Hollywood star and wouldn’t have one for some time, MSNBC honcho Phil Griffin opted to give him an opportunity on their cable channel.
But with Baldwin’s show continuing to underperform, some are already questioning its future.
“It’s doubtful Alec’s show will pull out of its tailspin because the reports in digital and social media I have seen indicate that too many people are buzzing about what a disappointment the program appears to be, especially its lack of humor,” Grabowski said. “That will only serve to drive away more potential viewers. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the show canceled soon unless producers manage to book stellar guests who mesh well with Alec’s dramatic and forceful style.”
But D.C.-based political attorney Margaret Cone says it’s simply too early to call the show either a success or failure.
“As we move into 2014, with the midterm elections and key gubernatorial races, Baldwin has an opportunity to build a following, especially if the program focuses on populist liberal issues that speaks to a majority of Americans,” she said.
This isn’t the first time the “Glengarry Glen Ross” star has tried his hand with the talk format. From 2009 through to September of this year, Baldwin hosted the WNYC podcast “Here's the Thing” that featured guests such as David Letterman and New York Times editor Jill Abramson. The Hollywood Reporter noted that while Baldwin wanted to continue with the radio gig, it was canceled due to issues with securing funding.
Reps for Baldwin and MSNBC did not respond to a request for comment.