Sports Tonight (U.S. TV program)

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Sports Tonight is an American sports news television program that aired on CNN from 1980 to 2001, and on CNN/SI from December 12, 1996 to the station's demise on May 15, 2002. It normally aired at 11 p.m. ET.


The early years[edit]

When CNN went on the air on June 1, 1980 one of the first newscasts was a sports bulletin where baseball and North American Soccer League highlights were shown. Later, a nightly program called Sports Tonight went on the air in late night. During this time, Nick Charles and Fred Hickman became established as the program's co-hosts. In addition, CNN aired a weekend program called Sports Saturday and Sports Sunday.

One of the programs's most popular features was called "Play of the Day" (later known as the "Replay of the Day"), which showed a highlight (i.e., a spectacular play) from that day's action.

The 1990s and the end[edit]

In 1996, CNN launched a new station called CNN/SI. Sports Tonight was renamed CNN/Sports Illustrated, and was replayed many times throughout the night on CNN/SI, like ESPN was doing (and continues to do) with SportsCenter.

The program was renamed Sports Tonight shortly afterwards, and when CNN pre-empted the show in late 2000[1] due to the coverage of the disputed 2000 presidential election, producers decided to differentiate the format from SportsCenter's highlights. Sports Tonight was relaunched in 2001 with a sports talk format, where viewers interacted with the hosts via the Internet and toll-free phone lines about their favorite teams and players. By then, Charles was no longer hosting; Hickman and Vince Cellini were the program's hosts.[2].

Sports Tonight continued on both CNN and CNN/SI until September 2001. When the terrorist attacks occurred on September 11, 2001,[3] CNN went to all-news programming.[4] Three days later, CNN announced that the program would no longer air on CNN,[5] but remain on CNN/SI. In May 2002, CNN/SI shut down operations,[6] and Sports Tonight ended after a 21-year run.


Since the cancellation of Sports Tonight, CNN has aired various programming at 11 p.m. ET, including Connie Chung Tonight, Lou Dobbs Tonight, Anderson Cooper 360, Erin Burnett OutFront and currently CNN Tonight.

List of Sports Tonight hosts[edit]


  1. ^ SPORTS TONIGHT Celebrates 20 Years
  2. ^ "Sports Tonight - CNN - September 10, 2001 11:00-11:29 EDT". Internet Archive. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  3. ^ Unfortunately, due to the recent news events, Sports Tonight will no longer air on CNN.
  4. ^ CNN eliminates sports show from lineup
  5. ^ CNN Drops “Sports Tonight,” Plans To Focus More On News
  6. ^ CNN/SI signed off with anchors thanking viewers and repeated the same edition of Sports Tonight until midnight, when the channel showed a blue screen with the message, "The owners of CNN/SI have stopped production of the network, and we regret that we can no longer provide it to you."

External links[edit]