“Nothing has been decided. We are deep into it with NBCUniversal and Rachel has an excellent relationship with them,” said Mark Shapiro, the president of Endeavor Co., who is representing Maddow along with CEO Ari Emanuel.
A source confirmed a report in The Daily Beast, which first reported on the possibility that Maddow might exit the network, with the top reason being the ongoing demands of a five-night-a-week show.
Maddow is MSNBC’s No. 1 personality, and her show has been in the Top 5 of all programs on the news networks. In July, The Rachel Maddow Show averaged 2.29 million viewers, behind Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight, Hannity and The Five. But ratings across the cable news networks have fallen sharply since last year, when a presidential election, the pandemic lockdowns and the the spectacle of Donald Trump’s presidency were attention draws.
Maddow’s show launched in 2008, after her standout success as a commentator for the network and as a radio talk host. Her ratings quickly proved to be a vast improvement in the time slot, as the network had looked for a show to benefit from the audience of its signature show, Countdown with Keith Olbermann. At the time, Phil Griffin, then MSNBC’s president, compared the speed of her success to that of Katie Couric when she debuted on Today. She also was the first openly LGBTQ host of a network primetime news show, and she devoted an emotional segment in November in which she described the experience of watching her longtime partner, Susan Mikula, get seriously ill with Covid-19.
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If she were to leave, it is unclear who or what show would be in line to replace her. Among the possibilities for Maddow is that she would start her own media venture, an avenue that has been alluring for a number of cable personalities. Among them: Dan Abrams, who previously occupied the 9 PM ET time slot on MSNBC.
There also is a bit of push-pull in contract negotiations, and she could also end up staying at the network, perhaps with a pared down schedule.
An MSNBC spokesperson said of the Maddow reports, “We don’t comment on employee matters.”
MSNBC has launched shows on weekends with figures such as Mehdi Hasan, Jonathan Capehart and Tiffany Cross. Rashida Jones, who succeeded Griffin as president in February, recently launched plans for a rebranding of its streaming channel to The Choice from MSNBC, along with plans for future programming headlined by Mika Brzezinski, Michael Beschloss And Nicolle Wallace.
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