Brian Williams may be leaving his 11 p.m. MSNBC program The 11th Hour at some point in 2022.
This is being reported by CNN’s Brian Stelter, who is citing three sources familiar with the matter.
Williams’ contract will expire in the next six months and he wants to move off the show, Stelter reports.
So, where will the longtime news anchor go? That remains to be seen.
It’s possible he could move to the network’s key 9 p.m. hour, as Rachel Maddow will reportedly wind down her five-night-a-week show at some point next year, and take on a role where she focuses on MSNBC specials (roughly 35 per year) and other projects at NBCUniversal. Allowing the cable news legend to work on content across the company is supposedly part of her new contract.
Who might succeed Maddow in MSNBC’s key hour? It’s a big deal. As we mentioned in a prior post, Maddow’s departure from the 9 p.m. hour is going to leave a massive hole. Her show is among the five-highest-rated on all of cable news, and sometimes doubles the audience for its 8 p.m. lead-in. Additionally, the viewership decline after her show tends to be more severe than what Fox News and CNN experience in the 10 p.m. hour. To be frank, she’s on a bit of an island these days, ratings-wise.
“She’s our Oprah,” an MSNBC senior staffer told Stelter.
In terms of her 8 p.m. lead-in and 10 p.m. lead-out, Chris Hayes and Lawrence O’Donnell seem entrenched in their respective hours, and both signed extensions recently (Hayes last year, O’Donnell earlier this year). Ali Velshi is Maddow’s most frequent substitute host, in addition to Nicolle Wallace and Ari Melber.
The aforementioned Wallace is loved by many MSNBC viewers, and often provides the network with a win in her 4 p.m. timeslot.
Could she be the one to take over 9 p.m.? It might not be that easy. As Stelter reports: “In the past she has resisted management’s suggestions to move her later in the day, sources said, because she prioritizes time in the evenings with her son.”
MSNBC may tap Joy Reid, or one of its weekend hosts for 9 p.m. The network may even go outside (you never know).
What does seem to be the case is that MSNBC will look very different by spring.