Lawrence O'Donnell and Ed Schultz Swap Places on MSNBC Schedule

1:48 PM PST 10/19/2011 by Marisa Guthrie
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Lawrence O'Donnell

"The Last Word" moves back to 10 p.m. and "The Ed Show" will lead off the night at 8 p.m. beginning Oct. 24.

NEW YORK -- Lawrence O’Donnell and Ed Schultz will switch places on the MSNBC schedule. Beginning Monday, Oct. 24, The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell will go back to 10 p.m., while The Ed Show will lead off the night at 8 p.m.

The announcement came Wednesday from MSNBC president Phil Griffin who noted in a statement that the swap will “strengthen the flow of our programming throughout the evening.”

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He added that as the title of O’Donnell’s show suggests, The Last Word “belongs at the conclusion of our programming day, thoughtfully wrapping up the day’s political dialogue.”

The Rachel Maddow Show, which has become the network’s highest-rated show since the departure of Keith Olbermann last January, will stay put at 9 p.m.

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The Last Word premiered in the 10 p.m. time slot but was bumped to 8 p.m. when Olbermann abruptly left. And the decision to move it to 8 p.m. was somewhat rushed, given the nature of Olbermann's departure. Since moving to 8 p.m., O’Donnell has lost ground in the ratings since. Meanwhile CNN last August moved Anderson Cooper, the network’s biggest star, into the 8 p.m. time slot.

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And September was a competitive month; though MSNBC continued to out-rate rival CNN for the recently concluded third quarter, CNN eked out a ratings win in the 25-54 demographic for the month of September, topping MSNBC 219,000 viewers to 207,000 in primetime (not including ratings for one Republican debate each).

MSNBC insiders say moving The Last Word back to 10 p.m. has been on the table for sometime as the show was conceived as the clean-up hitter in the lineup. It will also mean that O’Donnell, who shuttles back-and-forth between New York and his home in Los Angeles, will go back to a four day a week schedule since the network airs longform programming Friday’s at 10 p.m. But O’Donnell will anchor his show five nights a week during the high political season. 

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