Rachel Maddow's weeknight show is coming to an end next year, according to sources with knowledge of the new contract the MSNBC star has reached with parent company NBCUniversal.
The eleven people, speaking on the condition of anonymity with CNN, said the move is a "significant challenge" that will leave MSNBC looking for a new plan for the 9 p.m. slot, which is the network's most profitable hour.
"She's our Oprah," one senior staffer said. Maddow is the network's highest-rated host, sometimes coming in at double the viewers in key demographics that other shows on the network attract.
Earlier this week, CNN Business reported that Maddow's nightly show will end in 2022. She'll still appear on MSNBC, just not as often.
In addition to Maddow, Brian Williams is talking about leaving his program "The 11th Hour" when his contract expires in the next six months, according to sources who say he wants to end the late-night gig.
Meanwhile, the network's other night-time shows appear stable, with 8 p.m. host Chris Hayes signing a contract extension last year and Lawrence O'Donnell, who is on at 10 p.m., extended his contract earlier this year, leaving them with multi-year agreements.
Maddow, after the transition occurs, will host specials for MSNBC. One of the sources said she'll have a show on every week, but another said there will be about 35 specials a year.
MSNBC and Maddow have not commented on the changes, reports CNN. Some of the sources interviewed said the specifics of the shift haven't been determined, but other sources said the change is coming next spring. While some sources insisted that the specifics have not been determined yet, two other sources said that the transition will happen next spring.
None of the sources, however, said they were surprised about Maddow wanting a change of pace. After leaving her long-term agent, Jean Sage, Maddow signed up with the huge talent agency Endeavor, and that was seen internally as a signal that her career was shifting.
"You don't hire (Endeavor CEO) Ari Emanuel just to renew your deal at MSNBC," an unnamed MSNBC anchor said.
There is also a great deal of speculation about who would take over Maddow's audience, with Nicolle Wallace, Ali Velshi, and Ari Melber being mentioned as potentially being bumped up.
Wallace, who anchors programming at 4 p.m. and 5 p.m., has resisted moves to be on the air later in the day because she prioritizes that time to be with her son, notes CNN.
Melber, the network's chief legal correspondent, is the 6 p.m. anchor and consistently takes some of the top non-primetime ratings. Velshi, meanwhile, is in several spots on the weekday prime-time schedule, and insiders have said he'll be in line for Williams' 11 p.m. slot if he leaves.
Meanwhile, NBC fought off other bidders for Maddow, settling for having her on for fewer days on the air than not to have her at all.
Top executives with the network are also new in their jobs, with Rashida Jones becoming network president in January and Cesar Conde becoming chairman of the NBCUniversal News Group in May 2020.
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