Though tethered to a parent network that often can’t find a useful sked with a road map, a compass and an instructional video, MSNBC has made gains of late by turning its primetime over to a steady stream of docs. That move comes at the prompting of current GM Dan Abrams, who took over in 2006. Abrams made the leap to gm from his previous position as legal correspondent and host of MSNBC’s The Abrams Report. (Interestingly, one of his first moves was to take himself off the air, though he continues to contribute on-air when applicable.)
Abrams canned the net’s current primetime slot and replaced it, in part, with a two-hour ‘Doc-Block’ which runs from 10 p.m. to midnight, and repeats again at 1 a.m. The slot has played host to everything from Alexandra Pelosi’s Journeys With George and Morgan Spurlock’s Super Size Me, to gritty crime time like No Place for a Child and Lockup. MSNBC also picked up Dick Wolf (of Law & Order fame) vehicle Crime and Punishment.
Then, to top things off, the cablenet wrapped up host Keith Olbermann until 2011, ensuring the surging Countdown with Keith Olbermann would continue to attract ever-increasing numbers of disenfranchised viewers. Countdown’s ratings were up 85% over 2006, attracting an average of 715,000 viewers to the net. What Olbermann plans to do when GW rides off into the sunset is yet to be seen, but the cablenet looks like it is going to be a home for long-form and investigative non-fiction for some time. Or, as Abrams stated in a release at the time of his promotion: ‘Over the next few months, you will hopefully see the network become a little more exciting, a little more vibrant and a little more irreverent.’