Huge changes are coming to MSNBC ahead of Brian Williams' return to TV

MSNBCAP Photo/ Evan VucciPresident Barack Obama talks with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews during a break in the taping of an interview for the

MSNBC has a lot of work to do, and the network knows it.

Ratings have been languishing — this year. The network returned its lowest Q1 primetime ratings in a decade, and suffered a nearly 40% drop among adults aged 25-54.

That’s mostly because viewers have been flocking to Fox News and CNN for breaking news, Mediaite reports.

So, the network is shaking things up.

In a note from MSNBC president, Phil Griffin publicized Thursday, the network announced three afternoon shows are canceled (all times Eastern):

  • “The Cycle” (3 p.m.)
  • “Now With Alex” (4 p.m.)
  • “The Ed Show” (5 p.m.)

As it turns out, MSNBC’s brand-new weekday afternoon lineup is expected to feature some familiar faces — including Chuck Todd, who currently hosts the weekend talker, “Meet the Press.” Todd will go up against CNN’s Jake Tapper in the 5 p.m. weekday slot.

That leaves open a two-hour window that will be reserved for a “straight news program,” Mediaite’s Joe Concha reported last week.

What remains unknown, is where former “NBC Nightly News” anchor, Brian Williams, fits into the shuffle. NBCUniversal announced last month that Williams would be permanently replaced at ‘Nightly News’ by fellow newsman, Lester Holt. Williams was set to move back to MSNBC — where he anchored news from 1996 to 2004 — to cover breaking news and special reports.

Another hint about MSNBC’s plans could be found in the Griffin memo, where he hints that MSNBC’s “3pm to 6pm hours will begin the pivot towards live, breaking news coverage” as the network finalises plans to “create a new look” for its afternoon programming.

The moves mean MSNBC’s weekday lineup could potentially achieve that “serious” news presence so coveted by the cable networks — especially as the current presidential election cycle picks up steam. MSNBC has been fighting for some time to hold on to its relevance against CNN and Fox News.

The freshened MSNBC lineup could also create a platform for Brian Williams’ comeback. His personal stock has waned in the months since he confessed to saying things that were not true about his coverage of the Iraq war.

Williams finishes his 6-month suspension next month.

Business Insider has reached out to NBC for comment. We will update this post if/when we hear back.

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