Mehdi Hasan, the political analyst who has demonstrated a knack for producing viral discussions, will bring his savvy conversational skills to MSNBC, in the first programming change at the NBCUniversal outlet since Rashida Jones took oversight earlier this month.
Hasan has been hosting a lively program for NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming-video service, and the intensity of his following proved too alluring for MSNBC executives to ignore. He will take over a Sunday hour that had only recently been assigned to anchor Joshua Johnson. “The Medhi Hasan Show” will continue to stream weekdays on Peacock, and then air 8 p.m. Sundays on MSNBC. Johnson will continue to anchor his program, “The Week,” at 9 p.m. that evening as well as on Saturdays, while contributing to other parts of the MSBNBC schedule.
More from Variety
Hasan’s new Sunday program was previously reported by The Los Angeles Times.
The quick launch of his show on Sundays suggests news executives are paying new attention to the dynamics of streaming video. The news operations at NBC, ABC and CBS have all launched streaming-news services and have often maintained them separately from their TV operations.
But that mode of business may be coming to an end. ABC News recently named Linsey Davis, an anchor who has been leading a primetime news show on its ABC News Live, to helm the Sunday broadcast of “World News Tonight.” CBS News intends to take a version of “60 Minutes” originally produced for the short-form video service Quibi and transform it into a deep-dive news program for its parent’s new Paramount Plus streaming-video outlet. NBC News is creating a Peacock channel that allows users to watch old episodes of its “Dateline” newsmagazine for as long as they like.
“The Mehdi Hasan Show” debuted on Peacock on October 5. Hasan was previously employed by Al Jazeera, where he hosted an English-language program, and the investigative journalism outlet The Intercept, where he led a podcast.
He has been part of a push at Peacock to launch some programming that tilts more toward opinion and perspective (Zerlina Maxwell also hosts a program with a progressive lens on the news cycle) than a mere discussion of the news, and suggests that format carries new appeal to news executives at NBCUniversal after a period of focusing more heavily on breaking items during coverage of the Trump administration. MSNBC in 2015 canceled daytime programs hosted by Ronan Farrow and Joy Reid in favor of restocking its afternoons with hours that focused more intently on news of the day. MSNBC’s afternoon schedule remains intact, but news executives across the board have found ratings success with hosts who veer into analysis, and, sometimes, punditry.
Best of Variety