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CNN Relaunches ‘Anderson Cooper Full Circle’ Live Digital Show, With Less Focus on Politics

CNN is bringing back Anderson Cooper’s live weekday digital news show — originally funded by Facebook for its Watch video service — with a new iteration that won’t be as heavy on the D.C. beat.

The new “Anderson Cooper Full Circle” premieres Tuesday, Oct. 1, streamed live on CNN mobile apps and web at 5 p.m. ET. The show aired on Facebook Watch for about a year, before CNN decided it could make more money by moving it to its own digital platforms.

A key learning for CNN: Cooper’s online fans wanted to see less political coverage. The TV audience for “Anderson Cooper 360,” which is on the linear channel in the 8-9 p.m. ET time slot, is “pretty dialed in to whatever the latest is coming out of Washington,” said Charlie Moore, executive producer of Cooper’s shows at CNN.

The new approach to “Full Circle” will give producers “more latitude to get out of just doing Washington stories,” said Moore. “I hesitate to say counter-programming… but the digital audience is there for [non-political] stories as well.” He added that “Anderson Cooper Full Circle” will naturally focus on politics when it’s the No. 1 story, especially with the impending impeachment proceedings against President Trump and related news breaking over the past week.

To Moore’s point about deemphasizing D.C. stories in Cooper’s daily digital show, there’s a growing political fatigue among Americans: 46% of U.S. social media users say they feel “worn out” by the number of political posts and discussions on social media, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted June 3-17, 2019. That’s up 9 percentage points since the summer of 2016.

In another change, the new “Full Circle” will drill into one big story of the day, running 10-15 minutes. Originally, the show started out as a general news update with multiple elements like “three things to know,” interstitial segments and one main feature.

“We found that doing a deep-dive on one topic is really the key, and not trying to fit too many stories,” Moore said. “That’s what the digital audience wants.”

Also, “Anderson Cooper Full Circle” will now go live each weekday at 5 p.m. ET, versus the 6:25 p.m. ET start time when it was on Facebook Watch. Cullen Daly, executive producer of CNN Digital Productions, said that was to capture an East Coast audience while many are still at their desks during the workday. “Full Circle” will be reprogrammed later in the evening with an on-demand version, designed to push it to West Coast viewers. “It’s a new habit to build,” Daly said.

Other changes were smaller. For example, “Full Circle” will kick off each program with a video clip instead of Cooper introducing the show. That “grabs the digital audience right off the bat,” Moore said.

Cooper will anchor “Full Circle” from CNN’s studios in New York City or will be live from on location if he is in the field. The show will feature CNN correspondents and guests.

This summer, CNN announced that it would move “Anderson Cooper Full Circle” from Facebook to bring it to its own platforms. The new iteration “is not an experiment,” Daly said.

According to CNN, on Facebook Watch, “Full Circle” performed very well: It reached an average of 2 million people per episode, most of whom were aged 13-54. That gave the news cabler confidence it would be able garner a sizable audience on CNN’s owned-and-operated services, without having to split ad revenue with Facebook.

CNN is still a Facebook Watch partner. In July, CNN debuted “Go There,” a show described as taking “a deeper look at the cultural political and economic challenges impacting our lives,” which now has 32 million followers on Facebook. New episodes hit the social platform weekdays at 8 p.m. ET.

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