Rachel Maddow, the MSNBC host, reintroduced herself jokingly to her viewers when she returned to her show, after a five-week hiatus.
A new contract she signed with the network means that she will be taking more time off, as Maddow will only host her MSNBC show on Monday nights going forward. It will allow her time to work on other projects for MSNBC and NBC, including a film version of her award-winning podcast Bag Man, directed by Ben Stiller.
Maddow has hosted her popular show for nearly 14 years, so some would say that it’s the end of an era for MSNBC. Regularly drawing more than 2 million viewers, going toe-to-toe on most nights with Fox News host Sean Hannity, it has grown into the most-watched program on the network (CNN remains a distant third). With no surprise, during Maddow’s hiatus earlier this year, the ratings have dipped, according to reports.
As for a permanent host to replace Maddow at 9 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, MSNBC did not announce anything so far. But another sign Maddow’s move is permanent is that they are renaming the show to MSNBC Prime on those nights.
The network will turn to a series of guest hosts for now, and the first will be Ali Velshi, who will host this week and was a regular fill-in during Maddow’s hiatus.
“You should be so lucky to ever have a co-worker as great as Ali Velshi. We are incredibly lucky to have him here at MSNBC and I’m really really grateful that he helmed things so ably while I was gone,” said Maddow last month.
Maddow is expected to return to the network to co-anchor big news nights, as with her hiatus period. There is a possibility that she’ll be on the air Tuesday, May 17, as part of MSNBC’s coverage of Pennsylvania’s primary election, which features a battle for the open U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey.