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Rachel Maddow is staying at MSNBC.
According to Business Insider’s Claire Atkinson, Maddow has agreed to a new multi-year contract with the network.
Maddow’s last contract with MSNBC expires early in 2022 and leaks surfaced two weeks ago that Maddow was considering leaving the network to start her own independent media company. The terms of Maddow’s new contract are unclear.
With the growth in digital media monetization over the past 18 months, Maddow had the ability to make eight figures a year by starting her own company that she could eventually sell. As I argued last week, Maddow is worth over $20 million to MSNBC:
Networks judge primetime hosts by their ability to raise the channel’s overall base audience. In July, MSNBC’s ratings jumped from 1.4 million to 2.3 million at 9 pm, when Maddow came on. Nearly a million more people watched Maddow than Chris Hayes, her lead-in host. Once Maddow signed off at 10, the ratings fell to 1.5 million. This shows, in July, MSNBC’s base audience in primetime was around 1.5 million, and Maddow was worth another million viewers
For reference, Bill O’Reilly’s final deal with Fox News was worth $100 million over four years, the highest reported contract in cable news history.
NBCUniversal had to offer more than money to keep Maddow. In addition to a considerable raise, I’ll predict Maddow signed on for a more lax schedule with the option to pre-record various episodes of her primetime program earlier in the day. Maddow admitted in an interview last year that, between writing a book and hosting her live show at 9 pm ET, she barely has any time to herself.
Furthermore, I expect to see NBC grow Maddow’s brand on the digital side. Endeavor’s president Mark Shapiro, who with Ari Emanuel negotiated Maddow’s new deal, is familiar with that bonus. In 2019, Shapiro negotiated Stephen A. Smith’s renewal with ESPN, getting him not only a substantial raise on linear TV but also money for a digital production deal. Maddow’s new contract says she will also develop new projects with MSNBC’s parent company NBCUniversal, likely suggesting a role on Peacock.
Maddow is one of the three biggest draws in cable news, alongside Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson. MSNBC didn’t have a backup plan. The network needed Maddow more than she needed it. By a lot.
“The news appears to be NBC News Chairman Cesar Conde’s first big talent contract renewal at MSNBC,” Business Insider adds. “MSNBC declined to comment.”
For the first time in my life, I’ll say it: Congratulations to MSNBC. What a win.