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This Day In Market History: MSNBC Launched

Wayne Duggan

Each day, Benzinga takes a look back at a notable market-related moment that occurred on this date.

What Happened?

On this day 23 years ago, popular cable news channel MSNBC was launched.

Where The Market Was

The Dow closed at 5,349. The S&P 500 traded at around 629. Today, the Dow is trading at 27,332 and the S&P 500 is trading at 3,013.

What Else Was Going On In The World?

In 1996, Major League Soccer debuted in the U.S. In the UK, Princess Diana and Prince Charles finalized their divorce. Average monthly rent in the U.S. was $554.

Birth Of A Cable News Giant

MSNBC was originally a joint venture by General Electric Company (NYSE: GE) subsidiary NBCUniversal and Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT), which took a 50% stake in the channel. The channel’s first ever show was a news show hosted by Jodi Applegate.

The original idea for the channel was to provide a showcase for NBC News and an outlet for Microsoft to experiment with content delivery via MSNBC.com.

In 2005, NBC took over Microsoft’s stake in the MSNBC TV network, as Microsoft wanted to exit the TV business. Microsoft maintained its stake in MSNBC.com.

In 2013, Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ: CMCSA) took full ownership of NBCUniversal from GE.

In 2012, Microsoft divested its stake in MSNBC.com, which was rebranded as news site NBCNews.com. A new MSNBC.com was created that served primarily as the online home of the cable news network.

Today, MSNBC, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) subsidiary CNN and Fox Corp (NASDAQ: FOX)(NASDAQ: FOXA) subsidiary Fox News are the three leaders in general 24-hour cable news.

In 2018, MSNBC averaged 994,000 total viewers, up 12% from the previous year and more than the 706,000 total viewers of CNN. Fox News was the highest-rated cable news channel with 1.42 million total viewers, according to Nielson.

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow hosted the second highest-rated cable news show in the U.S. in 2018, trailing only Fox News’ Sean Hannity.

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