Gayle King’s $9M contract is up in May — so is a bidding war about to commence?
By Matt Collins Article may include affiliate links
King’s deal is reportedly set to expire in May 2022, but CNN media correspondent Brian Stelter has been reporting that CBS and King have agreed to renew her deal and keep her at CBS.
She joined CBS News as one of the three co-anchors of what was then the network’s latest attempt to revamp its struggling morning show. Along with Erica Hill and Charlie Rose, King co-anchors the second iteration of “CBS This Morning” starting in 2012, which replaced the flailing offering “The Early Show.”
Throughout anchor shuffles, firings and a complete rebranding, King is now the only surviving member of the original “CTM” team, serving as the de facto main anchor of what the network now calls “CBS Mornings.”
The ratings haven’t really shown marked improvement — despite King being one of the most glaring common denominators on the show.
However, that doesn’t appear to have tampered potential interest in her from rival networks; she still remains popular, largely well liked with audiences and tests well with focus groups, according to internal reports.
No official announcement has been made and it does not appear any has been signed about King’s future.
With King’s expiration date an open secret within the TV industry, it’s said that other networks have at least mulled trying to nab her from CBS.
Contract negotiations with TV talent are notoriously secretive, often involving last minute wheeling and dealing and more often than not there’s a whole lot of speculation that likely never goes beyond that.
Some reports indicate King may have been looking to get off the morning shift and move to the West Coast, where her family and best buddy Oprah Winfrey are based.
One move that could accomodate such a shift would be for NBC to come in and attempt to nab her to take over for “The Rachael Maddow Show” at 9 p.m. eastern on MSNBC, according to one New York Post source, but there’s no official word to support such a move.
While King isn’t known as a notably partisan personality, she has vocally championed a variety of social justice causes on CBS and remains popular with that demographic, would could fit in well with the MSNBC audience, though it’s unlikely a potential show with her on the left leaning network could match Maddow’s signature format.
Another possibility being bandied about is that NBC could nab her and put her on “Today.” Again, however, there’s been no formal confirmation of this.
Interestingly, the Post source noted pairing King with Hoda Kotb, notably not mentioned current co-anchor Savannah Guthrie. If King is interested in later work hours, she could also potentially join the fourth hour of “Today,” displacing either Kotb of Jenna Bush Hager (or perhaps become a third member of the gang).
While it may mean nothing, especially if King stays at CBS, the omission of Guthrie’s name could be noteworthy as the show struggles to fight its way back on top of the ratings.
Meanwhile, there was talk that morning news leader “Good Morning America” may not rest on its laurels would try to hire King to join the show in some capacity, including potential hosting a third hour of the show at 9 a.m. eastern or in the 1 p.m. timeslot currently occupied by “GMA3: What You Need to Know.”
There was never any official word of that, only multiple unnamed sources talking to multiple outlets.
An afternoon or evening timeslot could work particularly well with a relocation to the west coast, since the time zones would work to King’s advantage if she’s looking for a more normal “9 to 5” schedule.
There’s also the possibility that King could get snapped up by a “sleeper” network or streamer looking to bolster programming with a big name.
Of course, CBS could also put up a big fight to keep King at the anchor desk, especially given it’s just invested in rebuilding its morning show and losing her so soon after wouldn’t be the best strategic move.
However, the network may have to either pony up more money or sweeten the deal with more opportunities or flexibility for King. An expanded offer could include expanded perks or the chance to appear on specials or helm key interviews.
A distant possibility might be a move to “Evening News,” which is, in separate reports, said to be considering an anchor changes after Norah O’Donnell has failed to make much improvement in ratings.
CBS could also let her cut back to four days a week on air, making it a bit easier for her to split time between coasts.
That said, if the cost to keep King stretches too high, the network may ultimately decide it’s not worth it, especially considering she hasn’t managed to turn around the last place morning show even after a decade attempting to do so.