10 Media People to Watch in 2016

Some media veterans will move up, others down and some completely out of the industry. These are the people most likely to make moves during 2016, shaping media in their unique personal way.

1
Ryan Seacrest

A photo of Ryan Seacrest.
Photo © Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images

2016 will be remembered as the year that the music ended on the once unstoppable American Idol. The question will be how Ryan Seacrest moves on. Sure, he's a versatile host and will likely continue on ABC's Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve, but it will be difficult to find another platform that gives him so much regular exposure. With his radio and TV production duties, Seacrest has plenty to keep him busy, but he won't want to be known as a "has been" in pop TV culture.

2
Donald Trump

A photo of Donald Trump.
Photo © Steve Pope / Getty Images

Donald Trump may have been dumped by NBC when he launched his presidential campaign, but he remains a huge media force. If nothing else, his White House bid has shown how Trump uses the media to benefit himself and his business empire. If he doesn't win the presidency, you can bet that he won't go away quietly. But how he reclaims the media spotlight is anyone's guess. More

3
Marissa Mayer

A photo of Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer.
Photo © Cindy Ord / Getty Images

Embattled Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer must be hearing the rumors that she will be gone before the end of the year. When she joined Yahoo in 2012, she arrived amid expectations that she would turn around this Silicon Valley giant that had lost its way. Instead, the company's future is as uncertain as ever, with its stock down and its search engine usage flat. Currently, Yahoo's greatest asset isn't its business, but its $30 billion investment in Alibaba, a Chinese e-commerce company. 

4
Katie Couric

A photo of TV newscaster Katie Couric.
Photo © Larry Busacca / Getty Images

The future of Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer may also determine the future of its global news anchor Katie Couric. When Couric was hired for $10 million a year, it wasn't immediately known how she would contribute to the growth of Yahoo. With the company's financial health in doubt, it would be easy to simply cut Couric as a way to trim Yahoo's losses. At the heart of Yahoo's struggles is that it doesn't have a clear path to profitability or even a clear identity. It is doubtful that it will ever become the news destination that Mayer had hoped.

5
Bill O'Reilly

A photo of Fox News Channel host Bill O'Reilly.
Photo © Desiree Navarro / Getty Images

Fox News Channel host Bill O'Reilly has the power to influence the 2016 presidential race by virtue of the millions of people who watch his program each night. His views are sometimes unpredictable because he doesn't always follow a cookie-cutter conservative philosophy. As the most-watched person on cable TV news, he could sway Republican voters in particular on whether they should favor an establishment candidate or an outsider, such as Donald Trump.

6
Rachel Maddow

A photo of MSNBC host Rachel Maddow.
Photo © Ray Tamarra / Getty Images

On the opposite end of the political spectrum, Rachel Maddow could use the 2016 presidential race to give her program a boost. She rode the progressive political wave that helped put Sen. Barack Obama in the White House in 2008. Now that Obama's time in the White House will be coming to a close, Maddow and all of MSNBC have an opportunity to underscore their brand position as the alternative to Fox News Channel.

7
Jeff Zucker

A photo of CNN worldwide president Jeff Zucker.
Photo © Taylor Hill / Getty Images

2016 is also an important year for Jeff Zucker, the President of CNN worldwide. CNN had once been the go-to place for unbiased political coverage. While it has maintained its position in the middle ground of American politics, it's not the destination that it had been before the birth of Fox News Channel. After years of problems, CNN needs to use this opportunity to cement its place in the minds of voters who want credible election information.

8
Stephen Colbert

A photo of CBS late night host Stephen Colbert.
Photo © Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images

All eyes were on comedian Stephen Colbert when he became host of The Late Show on CBS in 2015. Now that he's settled in, network executives and advertisers will learn whether he can deliver viewers as well as his predecessor David Letterman. The bigger challenge will be whether Colbert can mount a long-term threat to Jimmy Fallon and NBC's The Tonight Show.

9
Rupert Murdoch

A photo of News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch.
Photo © Anthony Harvey / Getty Images

Billionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch will turn 85 in 2016. Industry observers have been watching to see when he'll step down from his empire. He did give up his role as CEO of 21st Century Fox in 2015, but remains co-chairman. He is also chairman of News Corp. Given that he and supermodel Jerry Hall have announced their engagement, it doesn't appear Murdoch is ready for a rocking chair just yet.  More

10
Brian Williams

A photo of MSNBC news anchor Brian Williams.
Photo © Donna Ward / Getty Images

2015 was a disastrous year for former NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams. While he survived the controversy that he embellished personal stories of his newsgathering, he wound up on MSNBC, far from the limelight he'd enjoyed as NBC's top anchor. His successor at NBC, Lester Holt, has maintained the Nielsen ratings, so Williams will be looking for another way to recapture the glory he once enjoyed. Given how viewers love comeback stories, they may be ready to forgive Williams. But it will be tough for him to find a position with as much exposure as he had each night on NBC. More

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