MSNBC is getting closer to making some important weekend plans.
The NBCUniversal-owned cable-news outlet is expected sometime this fall to decide on a successor for Joy Reid’s mid-morning weekend slot, according to two people familiar with the matter. Figuring out who might be among the contenders hasn’t been difficult. Some of the leading candidates have been filling in for Reid ever since she took over MSNBC’s weekday 7 p.m. hour earlier this summer.
Zerlina Maxwell, Jonathan Capehart and Tiffany Cross are among the people being considered for permanent duties in the two-hour weekend time period Reid anchored for four years. Executives are said to be interested in someone who brings with them a sizable following that they could harness for digital projects like podcasts, and other content initiatives. Other candidates may be in the mix and there’s no guarantee at present that any member of the aforementioned trio has a lead on the job.
MSNBC declined to make executives available for comment.
The three fill-in anchors, who have been appearing this summer in MSNBC’s 10 a.m. to noon slot on weekends, bring heady credentials. Maxwell, a former campaign worker for both President Obama and Hillary Clinton, oversees progressive programming at Sirius XM and hosts a weekly show there. She has appeared frequently on NBC News and MSNBC programs in recent years. Capehart is a member of The Washington Post editorial board and an MSNBC contributor, and has also worked for the New York Daily News. Cross is a Resident Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics, and a co-founder of The Beat DC, a media outlet aimed at people of color.
MSNBC has been working steadily in past years to augment its weekend schedule, which had long been dominated by repeats of “Lockup,” a documentary series about life in prison. In addition to Reid’s former show, “A.M. Joy,” which debuted in 2016, MSNBC has added Ali Velshi to early weekend mornings and Washington-based Kasie Hunt to Sunday evenings.
The moves have added new relevancy to MSNBC’s weekends, which still rely partially on repeats of previous broadcasts by Rachel Maddow, Chris Hayes and others. Viewership among people between 25 and 54 – the audience most coveted by advertisers in news programming – has been on the upswing. In the second quarter, MSNBC’s total-day weekend audience in the 25 to 54 category rose 73%.
But MSNBC may need more original programming to vie directly with its rivals. CNN’s Sunday lineup, which includes programs such as Jake Tapper’s State of the Union” and Brian Stelter’s “Reliable Sources,” attracted more viewers in the second quarter than MSNBC’s in the advertiser demographic. MSNBC executives are believed to be interested in developing new weekend programming blocks devoted to both breaking news and analysis.