ABC said it would temporarily suspend its “Strahan, Sara and Keke” early-afternoon talk show in favor of a news program led by anchor Amy Robach focused on the coronavirus crisis, the latest example of news programming supplanting entertainment and opinion shows as the nation grows more concerned about the contagion’s spread.
Starting Wednesday at 1 p.m. ABC will air “Pandemic: What You Need to Know,” anchored by Robach and featuring guidance from Jennifer Ashton, ABC News’ chief medical correspondent. The program is intended “to address the widespread issues caused by the global pandemic and offer solutions from those adjusting to a new way of life.”
The “Strahan, Sara and Keke,” program launched in the fall of 2018 and was billed as an extension of ABC’s “Good Morning America” franchise.
ABC earlier this week said it would swap timeslots between “Nightline,” which traditionally airs at 12:35 a.m., and “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” The late-night comedy show is in repeats for the next two weeks after production was halted in wake of the coronavirus spread. “Nightline” for more than two decades kicked off ABC’s late-night lineup and it has not aired regularly after the late local news since 2013.
A number of TV networks are ceding more time to coronavirus coverage. Fox News Channel altered the format of its 1 p.m. hour so that anchor Harris Faulkner now talks with doctors who answer questions about the disease in a show called “Coronavirus Pandemic: Questions Answered.” NBC News this Thursday plans to air an hour-long special report anchored by Lester Holt in primetime. The show will also air on MSNBC. Fox News has in recent days scrapped the primetime opinion lineup of Fox Business Network in order to devote more resources to newsgathering.
NBCUniversal’s Telemundo is also stepping up its news coverage of coronavirus-related issues with a new late-night report to air weeknights as of March 17 at 11:35 p.m. ET anchored by Julio Vaqueiro. The addition of the newscast dubbed “Coronavirus: A Nation on Alert” will push back the Spanish-language network’s regular in-studio sports roundup program to the midnight ET slot.
“Pandemic: What You Need to Know” is produced by ABC News Live, the network’s streaming news network. Katie den Daas is executive producer for ABC News Live special event coverage, and Cat McKenzie is senior producer. Justin Dial is senior executive producer for ABC News Live.