‘Access Hollywood Live’ Downgraded From Morning to Afternoon Timeslot in Los Angeles (Exclusive)

KNBC follows in New York’s WNBC-TV footsteps by moving Billy Bush-led entertainment talk show

“Access Hollywood Live” the spinoff talk show of “Access Hollywood” has been downgraded in the Los Angeles market, being moved from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. – where it will continue to not air “live” at all.

The latest move could be indicative of NBCUniversal’s inevitable plans to share production resources across “E! News” and”Access Hollywood.” As TheWrap reported exclusively earlier this year, NBCUniversal has been indiscreetly laying the groundwork for a potential merging of “E! News” and “Access Hollywood” staffs, which would lead to budget cuts and layoffs.

Insiders told TheWrap that the first step of potential merger plans was put in effect when NBCU started moving Bravo and E! Entertainment from L.A.’s Miracle Mile to its Universal City headquarters, where “Access Hollywood” is now based.

“There is zero truth that ‘Access Hollywood’ and ‘E! News’ staffs will merge. ‘Access Hollywood’ and ‘Access Hollywood Live’ are not going anywhere and this timeslot change is not a downgrade. ‘AHL’ never aired live in Los Angeles,” a show spokesperson told TheWrap.

Billy Bush and Kit Hoover host “Access Hollywood Live,” which was launched in 2010. In the past couple of years it’s been plagued by low ratings, prompting NBC-owned stations in Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and San Diego to drop the show in the 2014-15 season.

The cancellations in those markets is curious since NBC-owned stations should be the greatest supporters of the show, but instead have removed the show from airing all together or have shifted it like KNBC in Los Angeles did this week. The show now in its fifth season has never gone national. New York’s WNBC downgraded the show in 2013 to 2 p.m. ET and then returned it to its 11 a.m. slot this season. Same-day airings of “Access Hollywood Live” on E! also failed to resonate with viewers two summers ago and was removed from its sibling cable network after just a month.

A spokesperson for “Access Hollywood” also told TheWrap: “2 p.m. is a high-profile time period on KNBC and we are thrilled that ‘Access Hollywood Live’ will now lead in to the hit daytime show ‘Steve Harvey’ in LA. We are confident that ‘AHL’ will do very well in its new time slot and Los Angeles viewers will enjoy a quality programming block each afternoon.”

The merging of departments has already become an established business practice at NBCU. NBCU Cable, especially, has created its own recent history of department mergers in which it has combined stronger groups with weaker ones to maximize results.

In the last few years, Bravo’s Frances Berwick has been given oversight over both Esquire and Oxygen networks. Last year when Suzanne Kolb was booted from her job as E! president, NBCU combined Bravo, E!, Esquire and Oxygen into its Lifestyle Networks group and placed those under Berwick’s purview, as well.