Shepard Smith was a long-time Fox News Channel news anchor. He joined Fox News Channel at its inception in 1996. He left the network in October 2019. He was hired by CNBC in July 2020.
Though CNBC is primarily a business news network that features financial analysis, the network hired Smith as a chief general news anchor and chief general breaking news anchor. He launched a primetime general news program, The News with Shepard Smith, in September 2020. The show was tasked with going beyond fnancial markets, ‘to tell rich, deeply reported stories across the entire landscape of global news.’
This is one of the first big moves by the network’s new president, KC Sullivan.
In a note to CNBC employees on Thursday obtained by The Hill, President KC Sullivan said “The News” with Smith would have its final broadcast later this month.
“We need to further invest in business news content that provides our audiences actionable understanding of the complex developments in global markets and the implications on institutions, investors and individuals. During times of flux and uncertainty, our place in the lives of those we touch on-air, online and in person becomes even clearer, and more essential,” Sullivan wrote in his message to employees. “As a result of this strategic alignment to our core business, we will need to shift some of our priorities and resources and make some difficult decisions.”
Smith will leave the company at the conclusion of his show’s final broadcast.
Sullivan took over at CNBC in August, and the cancellation of Smith’s show is his first major personnel move since his hire. The network plans to create a new business news program that will launch in the beginning of 2023 in place of Smith’s news program.
“Decisions like these are not arrived at hastily or taken lightly,” Sullivan said. “I believe this decision will ultimately help to strengthen our brand and the value we provide our audiences.”
CNBC is planning to create a new business news program that will launch in the beginning of 2023 in place of Smith’s news program.
It was widely reported that Smith was at odds with more conservative political opinion shows at the time of his departure from Fox News. There is no indication of that in this announcement. Sullivan, the new CNBC president, spoke about the need to prioritize business news and personal finance reporting.
“After spending time with many of you and closely reviewing the various aspects of our business, I believe we must prioritize and focus on our core strengths of business news and personal finance,” CNBC President KC Sullivan said in an e-mail to CNBC employees. “As a result of this strategic alignment to our core business, we will need to shift some of our priorities and resources and make some difficult decisions.”
Smith joined CNBC tasked with bolstering primetime TV ratings. His show did that as it doubled CNBC’s 7 p.m. ET audience. It brought in the wealthiest audience of any primetime cable news program over the last two years, Sullivan said. The show had its largest average audience last month since April.
Fox remains the most-watched cable news network. Other networks are making changes to better compete. CNN’s new leadership is implementing cost cutting measures and demanding its show anchors stick to the news, less personal opinions.
While other news organizations such as CNN are going through cost cutting measures, the decision to replace Smith’s show with a nightly business program is strategic in nature. Sullivan is attempting to clarify CNBC’s brand as specifically targeting business, given the many choices on TV and on the internet for more general news, he said in the e-mail.
“We need to further invest in business news content that provides our audiences actionable understanding of the complex developments in global markets and the implications on institutions, investors and individuals,” Sullivan wrote.
Maybe Shep will go over to CNN. Jake Tapper’s primetime show hasn’t worked out in the ratings and he’s being moved back to his afternoon show slot.
As for Smith, might he have other avenues to pursue? His relentless “just the facts” demeanor would seem to make him the perfect candidate for CNN as it develops under Warner Bros. Discovery. That network has yet to unveil its new plans for its 9 p.m. slot in the wake of an announcement Wednesday that hour’s current occupant, Jake Tapper, would return to his late-afternoon show, “The Lead,” following the midterm elections.
CNN is putting a positive spin on Tapper’s return to his afternoon time slot.
The network had originally announced Tapper would helm the 9 p.m. slot through the election, but after an extensive promo campaign and high-profile guests (including President Joe Biden), there was speculation Tapper could ultimately become a permanent host of the time slot left vacant by Chris Cuomo, who was fired by CNN last year.
Still, the anchor was not able to trump his time-slot competitors in ratings, often falling far behind competitors Alex Wagner Tonight and Hannity (on MSNBC and Fox News, respectively) in total viewers and alternating with the MSNBC host for second and third place in the key demographic of viewers ages 25 to 54.
We’ll see if Shepard Smith lands at CNN or not.