CNN may have cleared its schedule of “Reliable Sources,” but it is making lots of room for “The Source.”
The new program, which will be based in New York and is slated to debut Monday, July 10, at 9 p.m. eastern, is a new hour built around up-and-coming anchor Kaitlan Collins, who has, in the space of just a few years, vaulted from White House correspondent to morning co-anchor to primetime personality. Collins has been leading CNN’s 9 p.m. hour over the past few weeks, but under a catch-all rubric of “CNN Primetime,” which also encompassed town-hall specials and deep-dive interviews with newsmakers led by others.
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CNN announced the new program Tuesday night during its Fourth of July coverage and musical celebration, which typically attract a broader audience than its usual weekday schedule.
The name may raise eyebrows among CNN aficionados: The show’s title is similar to one assigned to a program led by Kasie Hunt that launched on CNN+, the streaming hub that was shuttered by corporate parent Warner Bros. Discovery soon after it launched last year.
Collins’ new program will air Monday, presumably opposite Rachel Maddow’s weekly visit to MSNBC and a week ahead of the debut of a new schedule on Fox News Channel that will lead primetime with Jesse Watters.
CNN is facing significant erosion in viewership, with more cable-news viewers flocking to more spirted primetime fare available on Fox News Channel and MSNBC. All three outlets are grappling with the migration of news viewers to streaming alternatives that are often watched on demand, rather than an appointment with something presented at a specific time and date. In the second quarter of 2023, CNN’s primetime ratings among viewers between the ages of 25 and 54 — the demographic most coveted by advertisers — was off 19%, according to Nielsen. In contract, Fox News’ primetime viewership in the demo fell 48% while MSNBC’s grew 15%. Fox News, which still has more viewers than its rivals, has had to contend with a drop off following its ouster of Tucker Carlson, while MSNBC has benefitted in recent weeks from coverage of former President Trump’s legal woes.
CNN aims to build “The Source” around Collins’ reporting and connections to knowledgeable fonts of information, expanding upon her work in Washington, D.C. The network is billing “The Source” a an opportunity for Collins to “bring fresh reporting that adds new perspective to the biggest stories of the day,” according to publicity materials reviewed by Variety. “She will expose uncovered angles and challenge conventional wisdom to make sure viewers are seeing a story from every side.”
During her time covering the Trump administration, Collins’ willingness to call out hard questions gained her some notoriety. She recently hosted a widely-criticized town hall with former President Donald Trump that grew raucous due to an emphasis on capturing reaction from Trump supporters. Collins won plaudits for trying to hold Trump to account, even as he insulted her and tried to steamroll past her queries.
Setting Collins at 9 p.m. is only one of a handful of moves CNN is expected to make in the evening. Erin Burnett and Anderson Cooper continue to hold forth at 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. — Burnett has made some news by traveling to Kyiv for her show, “Outfront” — but CNN appears to be experimenting with later hours. Abby Phillip, who hosts the weekend edition of “Inside Politics,” has anchored 10 p.m. in recent weeks, while Alisyn Camerota has led CNN’s 11 p.m. efforts.
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