Looking to give its top talk-show host, Chris Matthews, a
bigger role at NBC News as it bulks up its election coverage, NBC is shifting Hardball
with Chris Matthews from CNBC to MSNBC.
Matthews said the move allows him to contribute to
MSNBC's election coverage outside of his regular show. He'll also work as a
substitute host on NBC's Weekend Today show and as a contributor to the Today
"I was all for it because I wanted to be a part of the
overall NBC News division, and clearly, MSNBC is the future of NBC News because it's
a network totally committed to news," the fast-talking Matthews said last week.
Matthews -- known for his intense Hardball
interviews, during which he often shouts at his guests -- said he wants to be called on to
cover breaking news. "I want to be available to be called up at 6 a.m. to be able to
respond to what happened," said Matthews, who's also the Washington, D.C.,
bureau chief for the San Francisco Observer.
Hardball moves to MSNBC Nov. 8, running Monday through
Thursday at 7 p.m. Same-day repeats of the show will continue to run on CNBC at 8 p.m. and
Nielsen Media Research ratings for Hardball dropped
from a 1.1 rating and 745,000 households in September 1998 to a 0.6 rating and 404,000
households last month. NBC News vice president David Corvo said ratings for the show
spiked last year due to the Clinton scandal, adding that CNBC's Hardball numbers
could increase since MSNBC will cross-promote the CNBC telecasts.
"These are all niche audiences. We're trying to
increase his presence in those [MSNBC and CNBC] niche worlds, and we think that will
actually increase his ratings, and not decrease them," Corvo added.
MSNBC, hoping to boost ratings, has been tweaking its
lineup since July, when it canceled John Hockenberry's nightly interview show.
Hockenberry famously responded by taking on-air shots at MSNBC before the show went dark.
One night, he said the final night's topic might be: "How bad does cable TV
Hardball gives MSNBC a nightly two-hour block of
political talk and debate programming from Capitol Hill. Watch It with Laura Ingraham runs
at 6 p.m., followed by Equal Time with Ollie North and Paul Begala at 6:30 p.m.
Hardball will be followed by Special Edition with
Ann Curry at 8 p.m., The News with Brian Williams at 9 p.m. and Headliners
& Legends with Matt Lauer at 10 p.m.