The WGN America network will rebrand as NewsNation starting on March 1, according to a report by Deadline. The cable channel announced the shift on Monday, though it has been in the works for some time. It is due in part to the increasing competition WGN faces from streaming services.
The new NewsNation network will feature news coverage and talk shows, rather than the reality shows and original dramas WGN America hosted before. The weeknight line-up will reportedly begin with NewsNation Early Edition at 6 p.m. ET, followed by The Donlon Report at 7 p.m. ET. Anchor Joe Donlon will get two hours of airtime before the final program of the night, Banfield, a combination talk show and news aggregate hosted by Ashleigh Banfield. All of this starts on March 1.
NewsNation is reportedly intended as an unbiased, straightforward network for viewers with no political affiliation, looking for nonpartisan coverage. Nexstar executive Sean Compton announced the new direction with excitement.
"Rebranding WGN America as NewsNation underscores the network's clearly defined mission of delivering fact-based and unbiased news, while making it easier for viewers to find this new informative source for news," Compton said. "At the same time, expanding our news programming to five hours Monday through Friday will extend the network's reach and the depth of its news content across more weeknight time periods, delivering viewers more national news and regional stories from across the U.S., as well as coverage of the day's most important issues."
Nexstar acquired WGN America back in 2019, when it completed its acquisition of Tribune Media. The deal cost $4.1 billion, and WGN was just a small part of it. However, a recent distribution deal gave the network access to an additional 8.5 million U.S. households, bringing its total reach to about 75 million households.
With WGN America pivoting this abruptly, its original dramas like Underground and Manhattan will presumably fall by the wayside, unless another network or streamer decides to snap them up. The series were reportedly too expensive to produce, especially when compared to news shows.
WGN America was also notably the home of Duane "Dog the Bounty Hunter" Chapman's most recent TV series, Dog's Most Wanted. It seemed like a major comeback for the controversial bounty hunter back in 2019, but sadly it aired around the same time that Chapman's wife, Beth, passed away due to cancer. The series ended after one season, regardless of the Nexstar merger.
NewsNation's new lineup begins on Monday, March 1.