Various reports said Olbermann told the network last April he wanted to craft an exit strategy. He was suspended briefly in November after he revealed political donations to several Democratic candidates.
In a statement, MSNBC said: "MSNBC and Keith Olbermann have ended their contract. The last broadcast of "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" will be this evening." The network announced that "The Last Word" with Lawrence O'Donnell would replace "Countdown" at 8 p.m., with "The Ed Show" with Ed Schultz taking O'Donnell's slot at 10 p.m.
Olbermann has two years left on his $7 million-a-year contract. He signed a four-year contract extension in 2008 for an estimated $30 million, per The New York Times. A regular critic of Fox News, he had been the "Countdown" host since 2003 and helped lead MSNBC's march to the No. 2 spot in cable news.
An article in the The Wrap suggested Olbermann had his eye on creating his own media empire, similar to The Huffington Post, which would provide him far more control of his brand.