WGN America’s ‘NewsNation’ to lose an hour to make way for new Ashleigh Banfield show

By MixDex Article may include affiliate links

Nexstar’s ambitious three hour national cable newscast is getting cut back by a third in favor of an interview-centric show featuring Ashleigh Banfield, Variety was first to report.

The show, which will take the place of the 10 p.m. eastern hour of “NewsNation” on WGN America, is being billed as a “Larry King Live” style broadcast featuring interviews with newsmakers.

It will also feature celebrity and human interest content.

The show, titled “Banfield,” will typically focus around a single major interview, though the length and number of interviews will vary based on the news of the day and bookings.

Banfield told Variety she’s looking for an executive producer with experience in the “art” of booking guests.

Unlike “NewsNation,” which broadcasts from the studios of over the air station WGN in Chicago, “Banfield” will be produced in a studio in Connecticut, according to Variety.

“NewsNation” debuted Sept. 1, 2020, but hasn’t garnered much of a following. Its debut was over the 100,000 viewer threshold, but average ratings have since dipped below that.

On election night, arguably one of the biggest news nights of the year, only 95,000 people tuned in. That’s especially stark when you consider WGN drew 241,000 viewers that same night (WGN is only available in the Chicago metro area).

Nexstar acquired both WGN (the TV station) and WGN America (the cable network) as part of its acquisition of Tribune’s broadcast assets.

Nexstar hinted to Variety that it may be looking to expanded its news offerings earlier in the day, though no plans were announced.

One key goal of “NewsNation” was to leverage the thousands of journalists and meteorologists working at Nexstar owned stations across the country to contribute content.

Because this has the potential to significantly lower production costs and let Nexstar hold onto more ad revenue, even relatively low ratings along with some steady growth could make “NewsNation” a profitable venture, though Nexstar typically doesn’t break down revenue and profitability to that level in public statements.

Prior to “NewsNation,” the network aired ruruns of syndicated shows in primetime, which despite the age of some, can still be rather pricey and require the network to share ad slots with the distributors.

Despite a heavy investment in a state of the art studio and newsroom at WGN headquarters, WGN America uses talent relatively unknown beyond local markets.

“Banfield,” on the other hand, appears to be taking, at least in part, the strategy of using a more well known name to draw viewers.

Banfield herself brings a plethora or journalism experience, having worked for MSNBC, NBC, ABC, CNN, HLN, TruTV, Court TV and Investigation Discovery as anchor, contributor or correspondent.