Chris Hayes to take over key MSNBC slot

Per Brian Stelter of the New York Times, MSNBC will be moving host Chris Hayes into the 8 p.m. weeknight slot, replacing Ed Schultz, who on his show last night announced that he’d be moving to Saturday and Sunday nights from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Shortly after the New York Times story surfaced, MSNBC made it official. MSNBC President Phil Griffin:

“Chris has done an amazing job creating a franchise on weekend morning. He’s an extraordinary talent and has made a strong connection with our audience. This is an exciting time for MSNBC.”

And Hayes himself:

“I am thrilled to be joining Rachel and Lawrence in primetime. I’ve absolutely loved hosting UP on the weekends and I’m looking forward to thinking through the news five nights a week.”

Those canned quotes come from an MSNBC release.

Hayes’s style squares with the smooth and intellectual feel of other MSNBCers in prime time, most notably Rachel Maddow, who holds down the 9 p.m. weeknight slot. Hayes’s brainy, extended discussions with fellow analysts-cum-intellectuals on “Up with Chris Hayes” have earned him a cult following among young progressives, an audience for which MSNBC thirsts. Stelter:

Once it takes effect, Mr. Hayes, 34, will be the youngest host of a prime-time show on any of the country’s major cable news channels, all of which seek out youthful viewers but tend to have middle-aged hosts and a core audience made up of senior citizens. Of Mr. Schultz’s one million viewers last year, for example, only 249,000 were between the ages of 25 and 54.

Ms. Maddow had an average of 339,000 viewers in that key demographic. Usually cable news ratings work the other way — the programs earlier in the evening outperform the programs later in the evening. That’s partly why MSNBC sees an opportunity to grow at 8 p.m.

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