CNBC is canceling The News with Shepard Smith after two years

The news with Shep Smith

Adam Jefferies | CNBC

NBCUniversal’s CNBC canceled The News with Shepard Smith, its general prime-time news show, to refocus on business and market coverage.

The network announced the news in an email to CNBC employees on Thursday. According to a person familiar with the matter, Smith will be leaving the network later this month. CNBC will replace Smith’s primetime show with market coverage until 2023 when it launches a new live show focused on business news.

“Having spent time with many of you and carefully reviewing the various aspects of our business, I believe we need to prioritize and focus on our core strengths, business news and personal finance,” CNBC President KC Sullivan said in an E -Mail to CNBC staff. “As a result of this strategic alignment with our core business, we have to shift some of our priorities and resources and make some difficult decisions.”

Smith’s show will end at an unspecified date later this month. His team consists of about 20 people. The company will work in the coming weeks to help employees impacted by the cancellation find other potential opportunities across NBC News Group.

Smith joined CNBC two years ago from Fox News to improve prime-time TV ratings. His show has accomplished this by doubling CNBC’s 7:00 p.m. ET viewership and attracting the richest audience of any primetime cable news show in the past two years, according to Sullivan. Last month, The News with Shephard Smith had its highest average viewership since April.

The decision to walk away from Smith is the first major decision Sullivan has made since taking over CNBC from Mark Hoffman in September. Hoffman has served as President of CNBC since 2005.

While other news organizations like CNN implement cost-cutting measures, the decision to replace Smith’s show with a nightly economic program is strategic. Sullivan is trying to explain CNBC’s brand as specifically geared towards businesses, given the many opportunities on TV and the web for broader news, he said in the email.

“We must continue to invest in business news content that provides our audiences with an actionable understanding of the complex developments in global markets and the implications for institutions, investors and individuals,” Sullivan wrote.

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Disclosure: Comcast’s NBCUniversal is the parent company of CNBC.

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