"If executives have a plan, or even specific anchors that are being considered for new roles at night, they haven’t articulated it to many outside the newsroom (and even some of those in it)," says Variety's Brian Steinberg of Williams' and Maddow's respective exits from The 11th Hour and the nightly version of The Rachel Maddow Show in the coming months. "One potential reason for the muted guidance is that much of MSNBC’s programming success has been serendipitous. Maddow first gained traction as a fill-in host for Keith Olbermann. Members of the network’s Morning Joe franchise barely knew each other when they were thrown together in a bid to replace broadcasts of Don Imus’ morning radio program. Nicolle Wallace joined MSNBC as a contributor after parting ways with ABC’s The View. Early in the tenure of 11th Hour, Williams billed his late-night appearances as 'a pop up show' that would air nightly 'from now until Election Day, when we will cancel ourselves.' Five years later, he’s still showing up — until December. Meanwhile, some of MSNBC’s best-laid plans have gone awry. Consider early-afternoon programs from Ronan Farrow and Joy Reid that took an openly progressive view on the news cycle (both have gone on to have considerable better luck), or a weekend talk show led by actor Alec Baldwin that was scrapped after he became enmeshed in a gossipy altercation with reporters who were trying to cover a legal matter in which he was involved. Many of those programming maneuvers took place in simpler times, when TV audiences were just that, and not prone to check out a streaming-video venue or a snippet of news delivered via social media. Now MSNBC is navigating more difficult terrain. Like other cable networks, it’s grappling with viewer declines in the aftermath of the 2020 election. The dynamic is common; most news outlets see interest in their programs fade after a presidential run-off. But this occurs as media companies of all sorts are working their way through a new era when people are just as eager to seek out video news from their phone or a streaming FAST channel on a connected TV as they are to tune in to a cable-news mainstay." ALSO: CNN's Brian Stelter predicts Ali Velshi will take over Williams' timeslot.
TOPICS: Brian Williams, MSNBC, The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, The Rachel Maddow Show, Ali Velshi, Rachel Maddow, Cable News