Rumors spread that Horowitz wanted to make some big major changes -- including moving out ”Today”’s main news reader, Natalie Morales, as well as on-air personality William Geist, and possibly even main host Savannah Guthrie.
We know media executives can give those newly in charge a line about “taking their time” and “do whatever it takes” to see results. But they might also add quietly, out of earshot: “Keep things pretty much as they are.” This can include personnel and/or content issues.
The show had a long, strong reign as the number-one morning show, a big profitable venture where advertisers continue to flock. Even now as second banana to ABC’s “Good Morning America,” “Today” continues to pull in strong advertising revenues -- over $350 million a year.
It’s almost as if NBC executives were saying to Horowitz: “Don’t mess up that part.”
Gambling to make big changes? No one wants that. But maybe a calculated gamble? Think about CNN a few years ago. It was getting whipped by Fox News, with MSNBC was also nipping on its heels. Larry King was important to the network in prime time, but network executives believed long-time cable news network needed some major alterations.
So Piers Morgan arrived in January 2011 to great fanfare -- and initially some decent viewer interest. That lasted a little past three years, to March 2014, when he departed because of poor viewership. Morgan feared viewers were tired of a British guy “banging” on about specific cultural American issues.
Many might give CNN credit for taking a chance to shake things up. Others would say the news network is now worse off. Jeff Zucker started running the show in late November 2012.
Monday-morning quarterbacking is a dicey way to go. NBC will look for another way to right its ship. But I’m guessing those moves will be slight -- at best.