Nichols leaves ESPN for CNN

Veteran sports reporter to host weekend program

In one of many moves that CNN president Jeff Zucker hopes will reinvigorate his ailing cabler, sports vet Rachel Nichols is shifting to the Atlanta-based net from ESPN.

Nichols, who is leaving the Connecticut-based sports behemoth to join CNN as well as Turner Sports, will host a weekend sports program that begins later this year.

The untitled program will focus on topical stories and personalities. Her first assignment for Turner and CNN, however, will be to cover the Feb. 3 Super Bowl in New Orleans.

“Her arrival,” said Zucker, “is an important step in expanding the range of programming and storytelling on CNN.”

Zucker, who joined CNN in late November but had his official first day on Monday, has plenty of work to do to revitalize a network that continues to find its identity going forward — both on the political spectrum and with its general entertainment fare.

Late last year, Zucker hired celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain for a new show and recently brought over ABC political journo Jake Tapper to contribute to CNN’s coverage. And in a nod to the glory days of CNN, Zucker has brought back the distinctive tones of James Earl Jones to handle the network’s voiceover promos.

Nichols spent nine years at ESPN, serving as a correspondent on a handful of studio shows as well as newsmagazine series “E:60.” She also served as a sideline reporter for “Monday Night Football.”

“I believe in Jeff’s vision for CNN, and have always admired the great work of Turner Sports and what David (Levy) has done there. I’m looking forward to getting started at the Super Bowl.”