Instead, the network will pivot the evening time slot back to its core product — business news and personal finance — after Smith’s show wraps up. “Decisions like these are not arrived at hastily or taken lightly,” CNBC president KC Sullivan said in a message to employees on Thursday that was obtained by The Washington Post. “I believe this decision will ultimately help to strengthen our brand and the value we provide our audiences.
A network employee with knowledge of the situation said the decision was not a cost-cutting move, though Smith earned a large salary as an evening news anchor.
Smith came to the network with a reputation for down-the-middle news, which he honed during a 23-year career at the Fox News Channel. He abruptly resigned from the network in late 2019, denying that his departure was precipitated by occasional clashes with his colleagues on the right-leaning network.
He was recruited from Fox by longtime CNBC president Mark Hoffman, who left the network earlier this fall, Smith told The Post in a 2020 interview. Smith held discussions with other cable news networks before deciding to join CNBC, where his newscast replaced reruns of “Shark Tank” when it premiered that September.
But Smith’s stature in the industry did not generate big ratings for CNBC. Between June and September this year, his show was the 52nd most-watched on cable news, bringing in an average of 206,000 total viewers nightly. Still, the network said the show has doubled CNBC’s viewership in the 7 p.m. slot, attracting a relatively wealthy audience that advertisers prized.
“The quality journalism Shep and his team delivered each weeknight was exemplary and not lost on us or our 7 p.m. audience,” Sullivan wrote. “At a time when misinformation and disinformation is rampant, The News succeeded in providing audiences with the clearest understanding of the facts.”
The network president said CNBC will look to identify new opportunities for the approximately 20 members of Smith’s staff. A replacement show focused on business news will be launched in the 7 p.m. slot at the beginning of 2023.
Smith could not immediately be reached for comment.