Morning Media Newsfeed: Griffin Outlines Plan for MSNBC in 2015 | Liberty Reups Maffei

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MSNBC to Widen Scope, Make Other Changes (LA Times)
Change is going to come to MSNBC in 2015. “Technology is continuing to drive unprecedented changes across the media landscape — and we all should be taking a hard, honest look at how we need to evolve along with it,” Phil Griffin, president of the NBC-owned cable news channel, wrote in a year-end message sent to employees Monday. FishbowlDC In the memo, Griffin admits 2014 was a difficult year for the cable news industry as a whole, but particularly hard for MSNBC, as the news channel will finish third among viewers ages 25-54 — behind Fox News and CNN. TVNewser Griffin goes on to discuss how technology is continuing to force changes across the media landscape and challenges his staff to evolve with it. He reminds the staff to continue “covering the issues that matter to all Americans, advancing the conversation, and finding the stories that celebrate the unique spirit and strengths of our country.” THR Losing its No. 2 slot to CNN and suffering the biggest year-to-year drops (16 percent in primetime, 17 percent in total day) in 2014 meant MSNBC often shouldered most of the criticism for the industry. The lengthy note, which also praises the network’s growing digital efforts, does not specifically detail how Griffin envisions MSNBC getting its mojo back in 2015 — though he does say that the network is seeking out “exciting talent.” Variety Griffin’s note cited MSNBC’s gains among Hispanic and African-American viewers as signs that efforts to diversify its audience are paying off. MSNBC ranks No. 1 in primetime among Hispanic viewers and has been No. 1 among black viewers for five consecutive years, Griffin said. He highlighted the recent deal that brought Telemundo News anchor Jose Diaz-Balart to MSNBC’s daytime schedule as host of The Rundown. Experimenting through MSNBC’s digital program incubator, dubbed the Shift, will be a priority for 2015, Griffin said, among other digital initiatives including its newsgathering partnership with Global Citizen.

Gregory Maffei Will Stay With Liberty Through 2019 (THR)
Gregory Maffei will run Liberty Media and Liberty Interactive as CEO and president of each through 2019, the companies said Monday. Maffei’s previous arrangement will expire Wednesday. Deadline Maffei has been at the forefront of the company’s wide-ranging investments and efforts to build companies including Charter Communications, Sirius XM, and Live Nation. Maffei’s compensation package came to $3.6 million in the fiscal year that ended in 2013. But he doesn’t live on paycheck money: His take in 2012 came to $57.2 million with $53.9 million worth of option awards. His new contract includes an annual base salary of $960,750 that will rise 5 percent per year, with a target cash bonus for 250 percent of his base salary. On Christmas Eve he also received 3.3 million stock options with an exercise price of $34.04 per share, slightly lower than Liberty’s closing price that day. WSJ Maffei was previously Microsoft Corp.’s finance chief and also did a brief stint at Oracle Corp. Liberty Media’s holdings include a majority stake in SiriusXM Holdings Inc. and full ownership of the entity that owns the Atlanta Braves. Its minority investments include Live Nation Entertainment Inc. In November, Liberty Media said third-quarter revenue and operating earnings improved, reflecting strong Sirius XM results.

Today: The Musical’ Premieres With Anchors, Regis Philbin (TVNewser)
Monday, the Today show premiered “Today: The Musical,” a 14-minute tongue-in-cheek look behind the scenes of Studio 1A. THR / The Live Feed In August, co-host Kathie Lee Gifford announced that the show would put on a brief musical, written by her, featuring the Today hosts and crew sometime before the end of the year. In the initial announcement, Gifford said the show would air before NBC’s Peter Pan Live! on Dec. 4, but the Today production may have been delayed, as it made its debut just three days before the end of the year. Variety The segment featured Gifford’s former daytime TV co-host Regis Philbin, offering an irreverent look behind the scenes of the show. Sample lyrics: “We rise and shine / And we opine / And we drink wine.” Highlights of the video include Matt Lauer appearing in his boxers while waiting for his pants to be ironed, and the breakout star power of smooth-voiced stagehand Sal Cacciato. Gifford, who wrote the piece with orchestrations by David Wilde, said that the musical came together very quickly, with the cast rehearsing and filming over just three days.