As quiet as it was kept, a familiar face returned to (a part of) NBC News just in time to get in the confessional and discuss the little white lie ballyhoo. For several months, MSNBC has stopped “leaning forward” in hopes to stand up straight like a big boy news network.
The inaugural Papal visit of Pope Francis to America was the proper time to do just that. Brian Williams returned to the deck of network news and headed up MSNBC’s coverage of his east coast tour. And the strategy worked miraculously as ratings skyrocketed.
In fact, according to our own Chris Ariens on TVNewser, the combo platter of the Pontiff and the Brian gave MSNBC its second best daypart all year.
…The network saw a +76 percent increase in viewership from 3-5 p.m. ET, vs. its Sept. 2014 average. With 526,000 viewers, this was MSNBC’s second-best 3-5 p.m. ET showing all year. Only the SCOTUS same sex marriage decision drew more viewers (721,000).
It was no secret that he was coming back. MSNBC Chairman Andrew Lack told The New York Times as much:
“His passion fit exactly with one of our biggest needs,” Mr. Lack, chairman of NBC News and MSNBC, said in an interview on Monday. “Brian will be such an important contribution to MSNBC’s page-turn here.”
“The news is the star,” Mr. Lack said. “We are building a network that has as its core value delivering breaking news better than anyone else. It is not about the anchor who happens to be delivering the news.”
You can find many of the videos MSNBC and Lack have posted on every video site in the world, but Williams was his typical smooth and polished, affable and authoritative newsman self. And despite the #PRFail he was showered in months ago, it’s good to see Williams back on TV again.
By looking at the numbers, many of you agree with me. Just, um, no one ask about his resume, okay?