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Rashida Jones – NBC News
The first year of any job can have its share of ups and downs. For Rashida Jones, her new stint as president of MSNBC includes a full slate of challenges, with her on the frontline of an internal struggle that’s added to her network staying solid in a competitive news channel landscape.
Caught in the middle is Rachel Maddow, the popular fixture of MSNBC’s primetime lineup. According to Variety, MSNBC and its corporate parent are in talks with Maddow, about a new content portfolio that could have the news anchor fall back on her 9 p.m. MSNBC program and produce a wider array of projects. Should the talks become successful, Jones could find herself rebuilding MSNBC’s primetime lineup. That situation would come as the network finds viewers shifting out of the must-see TV mode of election commentary and analysis and into other options such as on-demand streaming.
Evidence leaning on the rebuilding scenario can be found with MSNBC’s third-quarter total day viewership among people between 25 and 54. Variety cites Nielsen when noting that viewership among the target market, which news programming advertisers prefer, was off 48% from this time last year. As for the competition, CNN’s total day viewership was off by 46%, while Fox News Channel’s was down 25%.
With Jones’ recent success handling special programming at NBC, some are looking for the new executive to test unique and format-busting concepts. Yet, replacing Maddow could take her eyes away from other work that needs to be done. At this time, talks between Maddow and NBC Universal may not be finalized until sometime in 2022.
Commenting on the new deal, Mark Shapiro, president of Endeavor, which represents Maddow, mentioned the deal “has a lot of fluidity and flexibility, and Rachel and the MSNBC executive team are going to figure that out in the next few months.”