MSNBC doubles down on opinion programming, cuts breaking news: report

Left-leaning cable network MSNBC is doubling down on opinion-based shows and further cutting back on straight news, according to a report.

Some NBC News correspondents reportedly have been told by their bosses that any breaking news they have to report should first be aired on the ad-supported NBC News Now rather than MSNBC, according to Variety.

The decision is part of a shift in strategy for cable TV giant Comcast, whose NBCUniversal has its MSNBC network leaning more heavily into its opinion- and commentary-based programming while it pours more resources into NBC News Now, a breaking news site launched in 2019.

An MSNBC spokesperson disputed Variety’s report, saying that no directive has been handed down from management for the cable outlet to shun breaking news stories.

“Morning Joe,” the daily gabfest featuring former Congressman Joe Scarborough, his wife, veteran journalist Mika Brzezinski, and NBC veteran Willie Geist, moved to a four-hour broadcast effective on Monday.

The change was announced earlier this year after business journalist Stephanie Ruhle was tapped to host Brian Williams’ nightly 11 p.m. wrap-up show “The 11th Hour.”

On weekends, MSNBC cut an early morning news wrap-up and in its place started running replays of opinion programming from the digital service Peacock.

The network is adding more commentary-based programming in the wake of scheduling changes, including fewer broadcasts by star Rachel Maddow.
Nathan Congleton/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

MSNBC has experienced turbulence in recent months thanks to uncertainty about its primetime lineup.

The channel’s star personality, Rachel Maddow, told her viewers on Jan. 31 that she would be taking a hiatus to work on a series of projects, including a film with Ben Stiller, and would be temporarily stepping away from her primetime gig.

Maddow is MSNBC’s top-rated host. She has hosted “The Rachel Maddow Show” since 2008.

The longtime anchor reportedly earns $30 million per year in her current deal with MSNBC, which runs through 2024. The deal permits Maddow to dial back her nightly hosting duties to pursue streaming and podcasting initiatives.

NBCUniversal is pouring more resources into its digital offering NBC News Now.
NBCUniversal is pouring more resources into its digital offering NBC News Now.
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MSNBC is also planning a weekend hour-long opinion show featuring Symone Sanders, the former Democratic Party campaign operative who worked for Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders.

The cable channel is still relying on its big-name, hard-news stars like Chuck Todd, Katy Tur, Andrea Mitchell and Hallie Jackson during daytime.

But the lineup for MSNBC’s digital streaming sister NBC News Now also includes Jackson as well as newly acquired correspondent Tom Llamas from ABC News.

Llamas will anchor the key primetime slot on NBC News Now.

MSNBC is trying to diversify its revenue streams as it is seen lagging behind its main competitors Fox News and CNN.

While MSNBC is expected to generate an estimated $891.1 million from advertising revenue and affiliate fees this year, Fox News Channel is due to rake in $2.7 billion.

CNN, the WarnerMedia property, is projected to generate some $1.8 billion, according to Variety.