CNN shuffles evening schedule ahead of Kaitlan Collins’ new show debut

By Michael P. Hill Article may include affiliate links

CNN has quietly shuffled its evening schedule ahead of the debut of “The Source with Kaitlan Collins” July 10, 2023.

The network’s official schedule lists “The Source” at 9 p.m. eastern as announced for July 10.

That is followed by an hour of “CNN Primetime” at 10 p.m. “The Source” is replacing an hour of programming with the “Primetime” name that previously aired at 9 p.m.

Meanwhile, “CNN Tonight” is shrinking to a single hour at 11 p.m. It previously ran two hours at 10 and 11 p.m.

CNN hasn’t named a permanent anchor for what is now the later hour of “CNN Primetime.”

On official listings, the show uses the rather generic description of “Join CNN’s top anchors for special events and unique conversations about the issues that matter the most.”

“CNN Primetime” was originally launched in February 2023 by then-CEO Chris Licht. It was envisioned as a news cycle-driven show that could change formats and topics as needed based on recent events.

Originally, shows tended to focus on single topics and were billed as “events” by the network. The network’s PR team would issue lengthy lists of usage rules for footage from the episodes, dictating how clips from each broadcast could be used on other networks, social media and digital platforms.

The format never attracted high ratings and the network eventually shifted the hour back to a more traditional hour of cable news covering multiple stories with an anchor, traditional reports and panels.

It’s not immediately clear if the new “Primetime” is meant as a temporary placeholder as the network attempts to develop new shows.

“CNN Tonight” has undergone its own set of tweaks since returning the schedule in 2021.

The show was originally used as a replacement for “Cuomo Prime Time,” after the network fired anchor Chris Cuomo for alleged violations of company ethics guidelines.

In May 2021, the 10 p.m. hour was rebranded from a second “CNN Tonight” block to “Don Lemon Tonight,” after its then-anchor Don Lemon. Lemon caused a stir when he said on air that “This is the last night that we’ll be ‘CNN Tonight with Don Lemon,’ so I appreciate all the years of ‘CNN Tonight with Don Lemon,’ uh, but changes are coming and I will fill you in.”

Many took that to mean he was leaving the network or his show was canceled. He later tweeted an update clarifying the show was being rebranded.

Starting in October 2022, “Tonight” was temporarily anchored by Jake Tapper, who took a temporary leave from “The Lead,” the network’s late afternoon show.

The move was officially billed as a temporary schedule change ahead of the 2022 elections, though it was also reported that the network was using the effort as a try-out for Tapper in primetime. Ultimately, the show largely underperformed and Tapper reverted back to “The Lead” after the election.