Zucker Poaches Rachel Nichols From ESPN

CNN to build a weekend sports show around reporter

Jeff Zucker has made his first official hire as the new CNN boss, luring long-time ESPN reporter Rachel Nichols to CNN and Turner Sports.

In her new role, Nichols will field a range of assignments across Turner’s sports holdings, including the NBA and Major League Baseball. In addition to her TNT/TBS duties, Nichols also will cover all major sporting events for CNN.

To sweeten the pot, Zucker has offered Nichols the keys to her own weekend sports program, which is expected to premiere on CNN later this year. She’ll join fellow transplant Anthony Bourdain (ex-Travel Channel) as part of CNN’s expanded Saturday-Sunday programming slate.

Nichols’ tenure at CNN/Turner begins next week. Her first assignment: reporting from Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans.

“We’re just thrilled that a sports journalist of Rachel’s stature and expertise will now be a regular part of the CNN lineup,” said Zucker, by way of announcing the hire. “Her arrival … is an important step in expanding the range of programming and storytelling on CNN.”

A nine-year ESPN standby, Nichols has served as a correspondent for SportsCenter, Sunday NFL Countdown, NBA Countdown and the network’s newsmagazine show, E:60. She also has worked the sidelines on Monday Night Football.

“Rachel is a high-profile talent and skilled reporter and we are proud to have her join the Turner Broadcasting family,” said David Levy, president of sales, distribution and sports for Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., adding that Nichols’ facility with breaking news, investigative journalism and human interest pieces make her “a perfect fit” for TNT/TBS.

Nichols tweeted the news to her 359,606 followers shortly after CNN and Turner Sports issued a joint statement.

Zucker officially began his term as president of CNN Worldwide on Jan. 21. In his first memo to CNN staffers, issued shortly after his hiring in November, Zucker said while he was “committed to maintaining CNN’s core mission,” it was necessary for the brand “to continue to evolve.”