With a seemingly nonstop cycle of breaking news, the cable news day has gotten longer with two networks making 11 PM coverage permanent.
MSNBC starts the day at 5 AM with Morning Joe First Look. The night ends however at midnight after one hour of Brian Williams’s The 11th Hour. The 11th Hour got its start during the 2016 election as a half-hour daily wrap-up of the news that would run through the election. However, the show remained after the election and was expanded to a full hour. MSNBC does not run overnight programming, instead relying on reruns of its earlier shows like The Rachel Maddow Show and the 11th Hour.
CNN wakes up the earliest as its show, Early Start, begins broadcasting at 4 AM with Christine Romans and Dave Briggs. Like MSNBC, CNN’s night ends at midnight, typically after a two hour installment of CNN Tonight. CNN Tonight originally got its start at 10 PM and only ran for an hour, but it was expanded to two. Similarly, CNN regularly expands Anderson Cooper 360 to two hours (to fill the 9 PM timeslot) after previously designating the hour to usually be for CNN’s taped content. Both Fox News and MSNBC have live programming at 9 PM which caused CNN’s recent weeklong run of Chris Cuomo in primetime to raise eyebrows.
CNN, however, has ditched its overnight simulcasts of CNN International, in particular CNN Newsroom Live from Los Angeles. A CNN spokesperson did not respond to repeated attempts to ask why CNN has moved away from the simulcasts. CNN has periodically dipped into CNN International overnight for breaking news, but typically reruns of CNN Tonight and Anderson Cooper 360 air. “We are basically doing live news 22 out of 24 hours a day,” network head Jeff Zucker told The Wrap when CNN announced permanent simulcasts. “We doubled-down on news.”
Fox News begins the day at 5 AM with Fox & Friends First which is co-hosted by Rob Schmitt and Heather Childers. Fox’s day ends earlier than the other networks, however. The last new program for the day on Fox is Sean Hannity’s Hannity which finishes at 11 PM. However, Fox News does extend into the 11 PM hour as breaking news warrants. Chief political anchor Bret Baier has been called in anchor coverage of political breaking news and the network was live at 11 several times last week to continue coverage of Hurricane Harvey.
Frank Sesno, a former Washington bureau chief for CNN who now works as the director of George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs, told TKNN that cable news networks have expanded their hours of coverage in order to meet the audience’s need for news coverage. Sesno says he cannot recall a news environment with such a sustained amount of news, but also public fascination. However, he cautions that the news outlets are expanding in order to take advantage of increased ratings, not that there is necessarily an amount of breaking news that warrants further hours of live programming.