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To help revive the struggling network, MSNBC in the summer of 2015 started transitioning from left-leaning, opinionated programming to hard news programming. Nearly all daytime opinionated news programs were replaced with more generic news programs. Ronan Farrow, Joy-Ann Reid, Krystal Ball, Touré, Abby Huntsman, Alex Wagner, Ed Schultz, and Al Sharpton lost their shows. News programs presented by established NBC News personalities such as Telemundo anchor Jose Diaz-Balart, Meet the Press anchor Chuck Todd, Sunday NBC Nightly News anchor Kate Snow, Thomas Roberts, and former NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams replaced the opinion shows.The revamped on-air presentation debuted in late summer 2015 and included a new logo, news ticker, and graphics package. MSNBC Live had at least eight hours of programming each day, barring any breaking news that could extend its time. Daytime news coverage was led primarily by Brian Williams, Stephanie Ruhle, Jose Diaz-Balart, Andrea Mitchell, Craig Melvin, Thomas Roberts, and Kate Snow, in addition to “beat leaders” stationed throughout the newsroom. These included chief legal correspondent Ari Melber, primary political reporter Steve Kornacki, business and finance correspondent Olivia Sterns, and senior editor Cal Perry. Morning and primetime programming did not change and remained filled mostly by opinionated personalities.
In April 2016, MSNBC launched a promotional ad campaign with the theme, “in order to know beyond, you have to go beyond.” The campaign portrayed MSNBC’s reporting and perspectives as “in depth” and an alternative to “talking points” coverage on other cable news outlets.
In July 2016, the network debuted Dateline Extra, which was an abridged version of Dateline NBC and another step towards aligning MSNBC and NBC News. The new program was hosted by MSNBC Live anchor Tamron Hall.
In September 2016, MSNBC launched The 11th Hour with Brian Williams as a nightly wrap-up of the day’s news and a preview of the following day’s headlines. This was MSNBC’s first new primetime program in nearly four years.
In January 2017, MSNBC debuted a program in the 6 pm EST hour entitled For the Record with Greta, hosted by former Fox News Channel anchor Greta Van Susteren. The program aired for six months before being cancelled in late June 2017. The network promoted Chief legal Correspondent Ari Melber to host The Beat with Ari Melber at 6pm.
In March 2017, MSNBC started rebranding their daytime shows as “NBC News” programs. The network logos started appearing on show opens, within the set design, and in commercials. In May 2017, MSNBC launched a 4pm afternoon program entitled Deadline: White House and hosted by former White House communications director and NBC political analyst Nicolle Wallace.
For the first time, MSNBC in May 2017 became the highest rated American cable news network in primetime. MSNBC’s increasing viewership was accompanied by declining numbers at the Fox News Channel. MSNBC’s May 15–19 programming topped the programming of both CNN and the Fox News Channel in total viewers and the advertiser-coveted younger demographic.
Another significant change was made in April 16, 2018, when MSNBC completely removed the news ticker at the bottom of the screen on every program, citing the reason “for a cleaner view that puts our reporting more front and center and we want viewers to get the best possible experience”. At the time of the change, CNN is still running the news ticker during live programming (although its sister networks, CNN International and HLN do not), meanwhile FOX News only scraps the news ticker during daytime news programs.