O'Brien told the New York Times she will be returning to a roving reporter role, forming her own production company and providing documentaries to CNN on a non-exclusive basis.
“There’s so many great stories to tell,” she said. "We can take some of the discussions around these issues and carry them to new audiences," some of which “wouldn’t necessarily be right for CNN."
Her deal with CNN and her new production company, called Starfish Media Group, will allow O'Brien to take her projects elsewhere.
O'Brien is known more for her work on documentaries such as the "Black In America" series on CNN, for which she is working on producing two new segments, than she is for her hosting role.
After Jeffrey Zucker took over as head of CNN in January, word of his plans to shuffle the morning lineup got out--and those plans did not include "Starting Point."
CNN announced at the end of January that ABC's Chris Cuomo would be taking over the morning show slot, although it would not be as "Starting Point" host.
The show had suffered from low ratings despite positive reaction to O'Brien's reputation for tough interviews.
In retrospect, she says the show's struggles to find an audience were not a surprise.
“Under the previous regime, we did not have a ton of support,” she said, referring to a lack of promotion for the show and infighting over its direction.
But O'Brien only had good words for the changes Zucker had brought with him.
"[Zucker and I] had conversations in general about my role at CNN,” she said. “What we ended up with was, they wanted to partner with me, and I wanted to partner with them.”
She has been with CNN since 2003 and took over the 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. "Starting Point" block in 2011.