‘NewsNation’ hires Dan Abrams, announces morning show

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Nexstar’s struggling NewsNation venture has announced yet another change to its programming.

ABC News‘ chief legal analyst Dan Abrams is set to join the network in September 2021 to host “Dan Abrams Live” and the network is also launching a long anticipated morning show.

The show will air from 8 to 9 p.m. eastern, replacing “On Balance with Leland Vittert,” which just debuted in the summer of 2021. “On Balance” will, in turn, move to a new, yet to be announced timeslot.

Over the past year, the network, which since renamed as “NewsNation,” has slowly cut back the traditional newscast format in place of personality driven interview, analysis and opinion programming.

Prior to Abrams, NewsNation managed to attract at least one nationally known name: Former NBC and CNN anchor Ashleigh Banfield, who hosts “Banfield” at 10 p.m. eastern. Leland Vittert, a former Fox personality, is also set to join the network.

Abrams will continue is role as legal analyst at ABC News a deal that could have been greased by Michael Corn, the former EP of “Good Morning America” hired to take over NewsNation after most of its top execs quit earlier in 2021.

Abrams will host from WPIX, Nexstar’s owned station in New York City (Banfield’s show is produced from Connecticut). It appears that Nexstar is attempting to emphasize the “live” nature of his show — Banfield’s show, at least in its early months, appeared to be largely pre-taped with at least some episodes produced back to back and then aired in different order.

Abrams anchored and reported for NBC News and MSNBC earlier in his career and also served a stint as MSNBC’s general manager. He was also host of the popular “Live P.D.” on A&E before the show was canceled after airing an alleged police custody death.

On the other side of the schedule, NewsNation is also adding “Morning in America” from 7 to 10 a.m. eastern weekdays with anchor Adrienne Bankart, a former ABC anchor, whose April 2021 hiring was officially billed as her becoming a national correspondent for the network.

“Morning” will replace paid programming a rerun of “JAG” on the network.

“Morning” and “Abrams” both premiere Sept. 27, 2021.

Despite a flurry of more original programming, anchor shuffles and extensive promotion on local Nexstar stations, NewsNation has failed to make headway in the ratings. Many of its shows’ audiences can’t even be statistically measured.

Nexstar launched NewsNation in September 2020 with the stated goal of drawing on its 100-plus local newsrooms around the country to contribute original content to its broadcasts. The company has invested millions in the venture, including on hiring hundreds of people to work in Chicago in its elaborate new newsroom and studio.

It also heavily billed the programming as being “bias free.”

Some industry watchers noted that even with relatively low ratings, Nexstar could potentially turn a profit on NewsNation assuming it was able to recycle content gathered by its local stations — though that the numbers likely haven’t reached that point yet.