Viewers tuning into CNN during 9 PM ET Monday night found a different face on their screens. Chris Cuomo, the anchor of CNN’s morning show New Day, hosted the primetime hour with a branded show, Cuomo Primetime. The show has not been announced as a permanent addition, but CNN ran promos for the show with the name and it appears on CNN’s schedule online. Guide data indicates that the show will air through Thursday of this week.
A CNN spokesperson did not respond to a request for information.
A Twitter user asked Cuomo if the show was permanent and he replied, “[S]ubbing for week. All anchors help out when asked. Team!”
However Cuomo Primetime seems to be more than a simple substitution job. John Berman has been subbing for Anderson Cooper for Anderson Cooper 360 (including Monday night) and that show regularly goes for a second hour in the 9 PM timeslot based off the news cycle. It seems unusual that Berman would not have just been asked to do the second hour if it was a simple matter of substitution.
Furthermore, there is the element of the production values. If Cuomo was merely substituting as he alleges, then it makes little sense that CNN would come up with a show title, logo, and intro. Cuomo also uses CNN’s Studio 71, the same studio he uses in the morning for New Day. The set uses blue ambiance lighting and features city skyline imagery.
CNN’s 9 PM timeslot has been a question mark under head honcho Jeff Zucker. When Piers Morgan Live was cancelled, CNN personalities like Michael Smerconish and Jake Tapper had weeklong try-outs for the slot. Eventually Zucker announced that the time slot would be filled with CNN’s taped programming with news filling the hour as breaking news warranted. With the chaotic news cycle, CNN has regularly extended Anderson Cooper 360 to a second hour. The Cuomo move shows they make be considering a more permanent news option at 9.