CNN said it would launch a half-hour sports program Friday nights starting October 25th, with veteran sports-news anchor Rachel Nichols as host. Launch of the program marks the first time the Time Warner-owned cable-news outlet has had a sports-themed program on its air.

"Unguarded with Rachel Nichols" is set to debut October 25 at 10:30 p.m. CNN previously aired "Sports Tonight," featuring hosts such as Nick Charles, between 1980 and 2001 in a regular 11 p.m. slot. The CNN Worldwide unit at one time operated a sports-news cable network, CNN/SI - a melding of the cable-news outlet and its corporate sister, Sports Illustrated - but that network was shut down in 2002.

In a prepared statement, CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker said the combination of Nichols and the program marked "another key step in CNN's evolution toward a range of compelling storytelling."

Nichols was hired to work for both CNN and Turner Sports - both part of Time Warner's Turner TV-networks unit - in January. The intent to launch a CNN program featuring her was unveiled at that time.

Nichols spent nine years at ESPN, working as a correspondent for programs including "SportsCenter," "NFL Countdown," and newsmagazine show "E:60," as well taking sideline duties on some broadcasts of "Monday Night She has also worked as a reporter for the Washington Post and the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel.

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