More reporting reveals more possible details about Maddow’s future at MSNBC

By Matt Collins Article may include affiliate links

After reports surfaced that MSNBC star Rachel Maddow is signed a new deal with NBC, CNN’s Brian Stelter’s sources have given a glimpse into what the terms of her new contract might look like.

The nightly “Rachel Maddow Show” at 9 p.m. eastern that anchors the network’s primetime schedule doesn’t appear to be going away, but sources say the show likely will transition to a weekly format at some time in the future. Some had speculated that Maddow might work a reduced number of days, similar to how former “Today” anchor Matt Lauer negotiated Fridays off.

This would allow Maddow up to have a bit more of a work-life balance as well as work on other projects for the network, such as long form programming or specials.

Some sources said that “The Rachel Maddow Show” brand won’t be going anywhere.

Sources also note the new deal appears to extend beyond just MSNBC or even NBC News, pointing to the example of NBCUniversal’s Focus Features film version of Maddow podcast “Bag Man” that is already in progress.

Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal reporting went even farther — saying that Maddow will form her own production company to back many projects with the Comcast owned empire.

Assuming the reporting ends up being correct, and it’s worth noting NBC has yet to acknowledge Maddow even signed a new deal, it appears to be aimed at phasing Maddow out of the daily grind of producing a live TV show that requires heavy research and preparation.

Previously, Maddow reduced her number of episodes to four a week during some select months, with various special programming taking the slot on Fridays.

Should Maddow transition to a weekly show, it wouldn’t be the network’s first — it already offers a handful of weekend only shows that air once or twice a week. A weekday once a week format, however, isn’t something that’s been tried on a wide scale before on MSNBC.

Perhaps MSNBC’s bigger problem — and one of the driving forces behind the reported transition period — is that it doesn’t have any clear heirs for the 9 p.m. hour.

Many other MSNBC hosts have filled in for Maddow in the past (sometimes even attempting to match her distinctive vocal patterns on air), but they all already have their own shows.

Moving one of them to Maddow’s slot could require them to commit to only four episodes a week and also doesn’t take ratings into account. Plus, this creates a domino effect of what takes their old show’s place.

Maddow has been averaging about 2.3 million viewers. “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell,” the network’s next highest rated primetime show, gets about 1.5 million — a pretty big jump.

None of the current MSNBC primetime hosts appear to be clear successors to Maddow — and that’s perhaps a big oversight on the part of NBC. It’s invested heavily in Maddow and she remains a key player in its ratings, but there doesn’t appear to be a plan in place for a smooth transition — whether it be to a weekly show or her leaving the network altogether at some point.

The network’s primetime is filled with analysis and perspective programming, so an hour of “MSNBC Reports” or a similar hard news program likely doesn’t make sense.