CNN to revamp its dayside schedule with ‘energetic’ new format

CNN has announced it plans to overhaul the majority of its dayside programming using a dynamic new format — though what that will look like remains to be seen.

The network says the presentation will be “energetic” and be produced from its world headquarters in Atlanta as well as studios in New York and Washington, D.C.

CNN declined to offer specifics about what studios will be used, noting that more information will be shared in the coming weeks.

The exact date for the changes hasn’t been determined, but will likely be between late first quarter and early first quarter of 2023.

Once the new schedule takes over, the recently-revamped “CNN This Morning” at 9 a.m. eastern will be followed by co-anchors John Berman, Kate Bolduan and Sara Sidner from New York until noon.

Inside Politics” will remain in place at noon before Brianna Keilar, Boris Sanchez and Jim Sciutto anchor until 4 p.m. from Washington, when “The Lead” takes over before flowing into “The Situation Room” and the network’s primetime schedule.

No other schedule changes have been announced, though some talent displaced by the shakeup will be reassigned.

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This is the second major programming change announced under CEO Chris Licht, who joined CNN in the spring of 2022 after working on “CBS This Morning,” “Morning Joe” and, most recently, “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”

It’s not immediately clear how CNN will brand the dayside coverage, though a report in Variety says that it’s been dubbed a “newsroom headquarters” format.

Currently, all of CNN’s dayside hours brand under the name “CNN Newsroom” with the exception of “At This Hour,” Bolduan’s show at 9 a.m., and “Inside Politics.”

According to the Variety report, the format will put much of the newsgathering process on camera and bring anchors out from behind the desk, so it’s likely the look will center around either a newsroom or in-studio workstations.

Technology will also play a role — perhaps in the form of video walls, touchscreens or mixed reality elements that will allow presenters to interact with graphics and other content. 

“CNN’s dayside audience is highly influential, with executives and leaders watching from their offices around the country as the day’s news unfolds,” said Licht in a statement. “We are leaning into our greatest strengths, showcasing our unparalleled newsgathering operation and giving our anchors the room to be more authentic. We’ve seen how our audience responds to this format, and we believe it will put us in a position of strength going into the evening and primetime hours.”

It’s not immediately clear what any potential set updates will look like, but in the fall of 2022, CNN moved production out of Studio 17N, a newsroom set with a traditional anchor desk that was used for “Early Start” and other programs.

It has since been producing shows that used that space out of alternative locations with images inspired by the view of the old set shown on video panels or walls behind anchors, according to sources.

A 2019 view of Studio 17N.

This could be an indication, though CNN did not comment on this, that the 17N space is being updated for the new format.

In Washington, the network’s Studio A/B allows for large, sweeping camera shots, standups in front of video walls and multiple presentation areas with small presentation pods that can be brought in for special coverage.

The bureau also has other flexible studio spaces including Studio D, which is adjacent to the newsroom and could be easily retrofitted to serve as a hybrid environment. 

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Meanwhile, Studio 19Y, the former home of “New Day,” the show “CNN This Morning” replaced, has also not been in regular use since “This Morning” debuted in November 2022.

The ‘CNN This Morning’ temporary set in Studio 19X.

At the time of launch, CNN indicated that the show would use a temporary studio — and it’s been using the Studio 19X, a multipurpose space, in the interim, though the network has not indicated where the show will end up.

It’s not surprising that this new format is being used under Licht.

The old ‘CBS This Morning’ set in Studio 47 at CBS Broadcast Center in New York. The show has since moved to Times Square and renamed itself as ‘CBS Mornings.’ The space has been renovated for CBS News Streaming Network.

“Morning Joe” has broadcast from a newsroom studio in the past and the “CBS This Morning” set inside Studio 47 included on-camera workstations as well as a reproduction of the control room’s monitor wall.

“Morning Joe,” “CBS This Morning” and “CBS Mornings” all use on-camera green rooms that give viewers some peeks into the behind-the-scenes action as guests get ready to come on air.

Licht is also drawing on a three anchor format for the two major blocks, something that he already put in place for “CNN This Morning,” which is co-anchored by Don Lemon, Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins.

“CBS This Morning” debuted with three co-anchors and continues in that setup today (though the size of the roster has changed a few times over the years). “Morning Joe” is co-hosted by Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski and Willie Geist.

Of course, the idea of moving anchors from out behind stationery desks is not new.

The Fox News Deck as it was originally built. This set has since been removed.

In many ways, it sounds as though CNN’s new format might be similar to the Fox News Deck concept where anchors including Shepard Smith could move around the space, interact with staffers and use a variety of video walls and panels to display graphics and related imagery, though the extent that format was used varied over the years.

CNN itself also already leverages standing and multi-venue presentation.

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