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MSNBC’s ‘The Rachel Maddow Show’ continues to suffer as namesake host’s initial extended hiatus wraps up

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MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow is expected to return to her show Monday on the heels of a hiatus that saw her program collapse as the network struggled to replace its only primetime star.

“The Rachel Maddow Show” is on pace for its smallest weekly audience since 2016, according to Nielsen Media Research ratings. 

“The Rachel Maddow Show” has been without its namesake host since February, when she announced a several-week hiatus to work on other projects. Maddow, who reportedly earns $30 million annually, ended up missing a significant news cycle, including Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” has struggled without its namesake host. 

The week of April 4 through 8 is on pace to be the lowest-rated week for “The Rachel Maddow Show” since 2016, averaging only 1.3 million viewers through Thursday’s episode. The last time “Maddow” had a smaller average audience was the week of Dec. 26, 2016. 

“The Rachel Maddow Show” averaged 2.7 million viewers during the same dates in 2021 when MSNBC’s cash cow was present and averaged 2 million nightly viewers during January 2022 before Maddow stepped aside. 

During the host’s lengthy absence, MSNBC continued to brand its 9 p.m. hour as “The Rachel Maddow Show.” It lost a staggering 40% of its viewers compared to the last week that Maddow actually hosted it. 

FOX NEWS CRUSHES CNN, MSNBC TO FINISH WITH CABLE NEWS’ LARGEST AUDIENCE FOR 81ST STRAIGHT QUARTER

Maddow was replaced by a rotation pool of hosts, with Ali Velshi filling in on a frequent basis. None of the replacements resonated with viewers, prompting media insiders to take notice of MSNBC’s alarmingly shallow bench. 

MSNBC reportedly faces a “crisis” if Maddow decides to permanently abandon the coveted timeslot, according to Puck’s Dylan Byers. 

Rachel Maddow ditched MSNBC for several week to work on other projects. 

During Maddow’s absence, her show averaged 1.6 million viewers compared to 3.1 million for Fox News’ “Hannity,” which airs in the same 9 p.m. ET timeslot. 

Replacement hosts also struggled among the advertiser-coveted demographic of adults ages 25-54, as “The Rachel Maddow Show” settled for only 214,000 average viewers among the key category from Feb. 7 through April 7 while “Hannity” attracted 533,000 average demo viewers during the same time period. 

CNN’s long-struggling 9 p.m. offerings — hosted by Anderson Cooper and Don Lemon — even managed to beat “Maddow” in the critical category, averaging 293,000 demo viewers during her hiatus. 

“The Rachel Maddow Show” finished the first quarter of 2022 as MSNBC’s most-watched program despite the namesake’s extended absence, but finished behind 10 different Fox News offerings. 

Maddow typically finished among the most-popular cable news programs during her glory days when the Russian collusion narrative dominated liberal media in the early years of former President Donald Trump’s presidency. 

While Maddow is coming back to rescue her beleaguered program, MSNBC executives are presumably on tilt as she has hinted at other extended absences in the near future. It has been reported that she’s looking to scale back or even exit her daily program because of professional burnout. 

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“We’re just taking it one step at a time,” Maddow told viewers in February. 

All ratings data courtesy of Nielsen Media Research. Fox News’ Joseph A. Wulfsohn contributed to this report.

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