The end of Velshi & Ruhle is nigh as MSNBC plans an anchor shuffle for the new year. The NBCUniversal-owned cable news outlet has set a new weekend morning show anchored by Al Velshi that will air from 8-10 a.m. ET Saturdays and Sundays in 2020, leading in to AM Joy.
The new program will replace Up with David Gura in the slot. Gura will segue to anchoring MSNBC Live at 2 p.m. ET Saturdays. Also, new MSNBC anchor Alicia Menendez will host two weekend shows, from 4-5 p.m. ET on Saturdays and Sundays and again from 6-7 p.m. ET on Saturdays.
After topping CNN in total viewers for the third year in a row, the network said it is building upon its momentum with a continued investment in live programming on the weekends. In the 24/7 news cycle, MSNBC will be committed to delivering breaking news coverage and analysis, offering new shows and familiar voices backed by the combined strength and collaboration between NBC News and MSNBC, it said.
Velshi’s move will mean the demise of Velshi & Ruhle, the show he anchors with Stephanie Ruhle on weekdays from 1-2 p.m. ET weekdays. The News Emmy-winning anchor and author, who also anchors MSNBC live at 3 p.m. ET, will continue to serve as a fill-in prime anchor at MSNBC, which he joined after Al Jazeera America went dark in 2016.
A rotating group of anchors will substitute on Velshi & Ruhle at 1 p.m. and MSNBC Live” at 3 p.m. until additional programming updates are announced.
Velshi is joining an MSNBC weekend lineup that also features Joy Reid, Alex Witt, Rev. Al Sharpton, Kasie Hunt, Richard Lui, Kendis Gibson, Lindsey Reiser and Gura.
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All journalists face huge challenges in trying to keep the public informed and government honest during this unprecedented health crisis moment. It has particularly hit hard on television news operations, as news heads grapple with keeping the newsgathering going even as some of their own employees are testing positive and in some cases, dying. Here is a column written under anonymity by someone who wished to be identified only as a senior segment producer of a prime time show on MSNBC. The contributor believes that NBC News is creating a potentially dangerous environment by keeping open its 30 Rockefeller Center offices.
The decision is simple, the execution is complicated.
CBS News shut down the CBS Broadcast Center after people there tested positive for coronavirus. NBC News, with multiple confirmed cases at its headquarters at 30 Rock, as well as one tragic death, still has not shut down the building.
NBC News/ MSNBC has a far more vast operation at 30 Rock than CBS News has at its New York headquarters, making the execution of such a decision far more difficult. That does not however change the vital importance of the decision itself. It is the right decision. Shut that building down.
Here is just one idea. Shut down the building at 30 Rock, ask that anyone who has worked in that building within the past two weeks begin to self-quarantine for at least two weeks. Then slowly reopen the building at a future date. In the meantime, NBC News has a vast array of locations from which to broadcast its many shows. No, it would not be easy. But it is essential. Any number of variations on this idea might work, but they all rest on one simple premise.
Shut down 30 Rock.
Of course it is entirely possible that satellite operations could wind up with cases of the virus as well. But the entire point of 'distancing' is to reduce the chances. That's why CBS News took its weekday morning show, its Sunday morning show, its local news shows, and 60 Minutes, to name just a few operations, and spun them off into different locales once cases of coronavirus struck its headquarters. By doing that, the company reduced the chance of further infection while still broadcasting.
On news broadcasts and cable news channels, the company will reduce commercial loads to allow for more programming. On the entertainment front, late night shows as well as unscripted series on Bravo, E! and USA, will all feature extended episodes and bonus content in lieu of some commercial pods.
NBCUniversal will reduce advertising loads across its networks and add more entertainment and news content as the novel coronavirus pandemic continues, and as families quarantine at home.
“Now, people all across America are turning to us more for the content that comforts them and connects them to the outside world,” writes NBCUniversal ad sales and partnerships chairman Linda Yaccarino in a blog post Monday afternoon. “At the same time, some marketers across every industry have asked to pause their advertising plans or shift their messages, and they're looking for ideas, tools, and strategies from their most trusted partners. So, in light of everything we're seeing and hearing, we want to do what's right for our audiences and marketers.”
On the broadcast news shows and the company's cable news channels MSNBC and CNBC, the company will reduce commercial loads to allow for more news and information programming.
On the entertainment front, late night shows The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon, Late Night with Seth Meyers, and Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen now originating from the hosts' homes, as well as unscripted series on Bravo, E! and USA, will all feature extended episodes and bonus content in lieu of some commercial pods.
Some of the company's channels will also launch family movie nights, with sponsored but commercial-free airings of films.
Late last month the advertising research firm Magna Global predicted that the U.S. TV ad market would fall by 13 percent in 2020 due to the fallout from the pandemic, calling the situation “totally unprecedented.” The travel, restaurant and movie sectors in particular have pulled back ad spend.
In addition, NBCUniversal finds itself in the position of having to fill many hours of programming that had been set aside for coverage of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which have since been postponed until 2021.
Yaccarino also writes that the company will be engaging in outreach to companies and waiving fees “to allow companies to reach their customers directly in their homes and generate much-needed sales.” That will include access to remote production teams, brand assets, talent, translation services, and editing services, which can all be used to create new campaigns even as most people are staying home.
The company also released new research on Monday outlining the increased media consumption during the last few weeks. The research found that digital and linear TV viewing is up, gaming is up significantly, and that streaming services are seeing subscription gains, while...