MSNBC officially announced a slew of programming and personality changes Thursday. The changes confirm the scoop by Mediaite’s Joe Concha.
The Cycle, Now with Alex Wagner, and The Ed Show have all been cancelled and will air their final editions on Friday. It has also been confirmed that Chuck Todd will replace The Ed Show with a political news program, similar to his old Rundown program. It has not yet been announced what will replace The Cycle and Now.
Four personalities will be departing the network, three of which served as contributors on The Cycle. The Cycle co-hosts Abby Huntsman, Krystal Ball, and Toure are all exiting MSNBC. Krystal Ball also served as a host on Shift, MSNBC’s digital news video platform. The fourth co-host of The Cycle, Ari Melber, will stay at the network where he serves as Chief Legal Correspondent. Ed Schultz will also be leaving MSNBC. Alex Wagner will be continuing at MSNBC, contributing to its 2016 coverage.
None of the programs were ratings successes. The Cycle was widely seen as a cheap clone of Fox News’s The Five, but without the fireworks that have come to define the latter. Now with Alex Wagner did well in its noon slot, but the ratings tanked after it was moved to 4 PM, opposite The Lead with Jake Tapper on CNN and Your World with Neil Cavuto on Fox News. That is similar to what occurred with The Ed Show. The program used to air in primetime, but it was eventually moved to weekends to make room for Chris Hayes. Eventually Schultz was moved back, albeit to a different time slot, but ratings were not as high. Although some of that can be attributed to primetime having higher ratings.
MSNBC President Phil Griffin announced the changes in a network memo. He acknowledges that “it’s been a difficult time,” however he says, “we have exciting opportunities ahead.” Griffin also says the daytime hours will refocus on breaking news. This comes as Brian Williams prepares to return to the airwaves following a six month suspension for lying. It was announced that he would return to MSNBC as breaking news and special events anchor.
Griffin says the new schedule will be announced in September. Until then, standard newscasts will fill in the holes.
Read the full memo:
I’m writing to share a number of changes we’re making as we build a new daytime lineup with the best live, breaking news coverage on television.
As of this Friday, “The Cycle,” “Now with Alex Wagner” and “The Ed Show” will air their final shows.
Alex Wagner will stay with MSNBC and play a key role in our political coverage as we head into the 2016 election. And Ari Melber will continue in his role as Chief Legal Correspondent. But we will be parting ways with some friends – Ed Schultz, Krystal Ball, Abby Huntsman and Toure will be leaving MSNBC. Please join me in thanking them for their numerous contributions over the past several years, and in wishing them great success.
Beginning in a few weeks, Chuck Todd will bring his unmatched brand of political insight and analysis back to MSNBC with a daily one-hour program. That show will air weekdays at 5pm.
I know you read press reports last week speculating about these changes. I hope you can understand that we were not able to confirm at that point because we had not yet finalized many of the decisions I’m sharing with you today, and we hadn’t yet spoken directly with the people involved.
In the coming weeks, as we complete our plans to create a new look and flow for our dayside programming, our 3pm to 6pm hours will begin the pivot towards live, breaking news coverage – with interim hosts from among our very talented ranks. And then, in September, we’ll unveil a 9am to 5pm schedule driven by dynamic coverage of breaking news events that are shaping the day.
Change can be hard. There’s no doubt it’s been a difficult time, but we have exciting opportunities ahead.