CNN is reportedly looking to give Kaitlan Collins its 9 p.m. hour — but is that a good move?
By Matt Collins Article may include affiliate links
CNN anchor Kaitlan Collins is set to be named the permanent host of the network’s 9 p.m. hour, according to a report by Puck News.
According to Puck sources, CNN president Chris Licht is poised to offer her a new contract to take over the hour, which has been without a permanent host or anchor since the network fired Chris Cuomo in December 2021.
Earlier in 2023, the network announced it begin branding the hour as “CNN Primetime” and offer a rotating cast of hosts and anchors covering stories based on the news cycle, often using editions focused on a single topic or interview.
Many of the single-topic editions of “Primetime” were heavily marketed, though the network has since started to fill the hour with more traditional summaries of the news of the day.
Collins has seen her star rise at CNN, at least internally, after becoming the network’s youngest White House correspondent in history before being tapped to co-anchor “CNN This Morning,” the network’s attempt at to reboot its morning newscast that has so far failed to make an impact in the ratings.
CNN also had her host a town hall with Donald Trump May 10, 2023. Reviews of her performance included positive ones, though not everyone felt so — and the network is reportedly taking a lot of internal heat from staffers over allowing Trump to spew lies on its air while audience members applauded his statements. Some have reportedly felt as though the network essentially aired a rally or commercial for him for free.
CNN execs, including Licht, however, defended the event as being important for the election and America and key to the mission of showing both sides of the political spectrum.
According to Puck, Collins is likely to be offered a new deal at CNN and the 9 p.m. slot no matter the outcome of her performance during the town hall — and the fact the network picked her to host is a perhaps not-too-subtle signal that it’s trying to make her more familiar to viewers.
It’s not immediately clear, if the deal does get finalized, what format the 9 p.m. hour would take or if it would be renamed. CNN declined to comment to Puck when asked for further details.
Using Collins as its replacement is a big gamble. She’s still relatively unknown to most audiences, especially given CNN’s ratings and hasn’t yet had a chance to make a big name for herself at CNN or another on-air job.
In some ways, the potential move appears to have similarities when CNN hired Erin Burnett, a former CNBC correspondent who CNN lured from the network in 2011 to host a 7 p.m. show.
Her show, “Erin Burnett OutFront,” received significant attention despite her being a relatively unknown name at the time. The show has managed to stay on the air for nearly 12 years.
Its ratings are relatively decent and stable but, overall, it’s hard to call the show a dominant force during its timeslot. Some at the network and in the industry felt the network went through a phase where it was briefly “all in” on Burnett, but has since let her simmer on the back burner.
Many are questioning Licht’s move to potentially have Collins hold up an important hour of programming, given that “This Morning” hasn’t performed well in the ratings.
Should Collins sign on for the 9 p.m. hour, it seems likely she would depart “CNN This Morning,” which she has anchored since November 2022. Her former co-anchor, Don Lemon, was fired by the network in April 2023, leaving only Collins and Poppy Harlow at the desk.
It’s unclear what CNN would do with the morning show or if Harlow would stick around with one or two new co-anchors. The show is scheduled to move into a new studio sometime in 2023, so a reboot of the program could be timed with that change.
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