In anticipation of March cable news Nielsen numbers, which will show CNN much improved March-to-March but finishing second to Fox News Channel in key TV-viewing metrics, CNN Worldwide chief Jeff Zucker sent a memo to staff announcing the news operation’s best month ever for page views, video streams, and mobile web traffic:
UPDATE, 4:30 PM: Unlike entertainment programming, the world of cable news is not one where Live + 3 numbers often have any relevance. You don’t often think of DVRs as how audiences watch CNN, Fox News or MSNBC …
CNN chief Jeff Zucker, who has vowed to shake up the network’s primetime this year, will experiment with several formats at 10 PM for five weeks. Don Lemon debuts on Monday — this time as anchor of The Don Lemon Show, leading into another new program called Making The Case at 10:30 PM. It’s Lemon’s second recent audition, having hosted the 11 PM program 11th Hour during Erin Burnett’s maternity leave last year. Lemon inserted himself into the Michael Dunn trial in a small way, when he announced he was “pissed” at the “ridiculous” jury’s inability to reach a decision in re whether Dunn was guilty of “murdering a teenager because his music was too damn loud.” Fox News’ Gregg Jarrett took the bait, saying in a series of tweets that “the sum total of what Lemon knows about the law and this case… could be written on the head of a pin” with plenty of room left over, to which Lemon responded, “Wow, someone is suffering from a bad case of the Michael Dunns. Guess my TV’s too loud…Mind your business old man.” (Jarrett is about 11 years older than Lemon.)
On Tuesdays, CNN will telecast one-hour special reports at 10 PM and on Wednesdays will present Death Row Stories. CNN’s docu-series Chicagoland airs Thursdays in the hour, and on Fridays is CNN Spotlight followed by Unguarded With Rachel Nichols. AC360 repeats are back at 11 PM Monday through Thursday, with Friday home to Death Row Stories in the hour. The five-week schedule was first reported on TVNewser.
UPDATE: Stephen Colbert At Head Table For White House State Dinner; JJ Abrams, Bradley Cooper, Viacom’s Philippe Dauman, Julia Louis-Dreyfus & CNN’s Jeff Zucker Also Attend
UPDATE: 7:01 PM: Michelle Obama could have turned to the guy seated next to her at the head table during tonight’s White House State Dinner and asked if he’s heard any good jokes lately. That would be none …
A tumultuous year for cable news networks wrapped with all of them having experienced some kind of ratings ding compared to ’12 – except HLN, whose currency is court trials, not presidential election cycles. 2013 was the year of the George Zimmerman and Jodi Arias trials – a good year for HLN.
Perennial cable news ratings leader Fox News Channel wound up ‘13 ranked No. 6 in primetime among all ad-supported cablers – behind USA, ESPN, History, TBS and TNT – with an average audience of 1.761 million viewers. (For comparison sake, MSNBC ranked No. 29 with 640,000 viewers, and CNN ranked 32nd with 568,000. HLN brought up the rear, with a primetime average of 395,000 viewers, but that’s a 22% year-to-year improvement.)
FNC made headlines this year when it revamped its primetime slate in October, adding Megyn Kelly at 9 PM, and moving Sean Hannity to 10 and Greta Van Susteren to 7. Since the change, all four of FNC’s primetime shows are up in total viewers and in the demo compared to year to date averages with Kelly’s show up the most: 10% in the news demo and 20% in overall audience.
Jeff Zucker took over the reins at CNN at the start of ’13; the network edged back up to No. 2 in total day, but remained in third place in prime, behind MSNBC, with its smallest ratings in two decades. That said, CNN’s weekday primetime programs saw some growth, including Anderson Cooper’s double-digit improvement, and a Piers Morgan inch-up.
CNN Worldwide chief Jeff Zucker, who is about to celebrate his first anniversary at the news gathering organization, touted his addition of Anthony Bourdain‘s show and the documentary Blackfish in a holiday memo to staffers, but gave a miss to any discussion of his new morning program, or the return of Crossfire.
“In 2013, CNN was recognized with three News Emmys, and two first-ever prime time Emmys for Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown, as well as a Peabody Award for our coverage in Syria,” Zucker wrote. “And heading into 2014, CNN Films is on the short list for an Academy Award in the Documentary category for Blackfish. In our first year of even having a film division!”
He promised to pick up the pace on his program to broaden the definition of news programming in calendar year 2014. “If you thought we did a lot in 2013, wait until you see 2014,” Zucker wrote. “Real change that transforms an organization doesn’t happen overnight. I have talked a lot about broadening the definition of news. You have seen the start of that, especially at CNN, where we have begun to introduce new series, documentaries and films to augment our best-in-class breaking news coverage.”
Among the reasons CNN Worldwide chief Jeff Zucker may be the best thing that’s happened to the news operation in a while is his ability to make noise — Zucker gives great interviews. Most recently, he gave his first one-on-one interview since taking the gig last January, to Capital New York, which reported he “plans massive change at CNN.”
Actually it might be bigger news if he didn’t plan massive change at CNN, but, anyway, Capital said today that, after almost a year of tinkering, Zucker has concluded that a news channel cannot subsist on news alone. Zucker’s in good company here, most major news organizations having come to that conclusion a while ago. Capital warned this new thinking is likely to make “CNN traditionalists cringe.” By CNN traditionalists, Capital NY means “older viewers.” The publication also noted CNN’s “vanilla coverage” was once a point of pride. By “vanilla coverage” it means “straight reporting,” which had been CNN’s trademark. Zucker told Capital he wants news coverage “that is just not being so obvious.” He wants more of “an attitude and a take.”
Albie Hecht has been named EVP and GM of HLN, effective September 30. Hecht, who founded Spike TV and was president of Nickelodeon Entertainment prior to that, is currently CEO of Worldwide Biggies, a digital entertainment studio. Scot Safon is the guy he’s replacing. Safon, a 22-year Turner Broadcasting vet — half of them at HLN — was out at the end of last month as part of a restructuring of HLN-parent CNN by its Worldwide president Jeff Zucker. As HLN’s new leader, Hecht will oversee all aspects of HLN’s programming, management, day-to-day operations, as well as HLNtv.com. He will be based in New York and report to Zucker, who made today’s announcement:
Just over two years on the air, Fox News Channel’s The Five airs its 555th show tonight. It debuted July 11, 2011 as a replacement for Glenn Beck and was made a permanent part of the Fox News lineup in October 2011. The daily one-hour roundtable with rotating hosts has proven both a ratings winner and a controversy magnet for the cable news network — and we’re talking about the home of Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity here. The Five has seen its ratings rise 50% rise since launch, and for the past four consecutive months it has eclipsed Hannity in viewership, making it the second most watched show on cable news after The O’Reilly Factor. With an average of 2 million viewers a night and 324,000 in the news demo, The Five also soundly wins its time slot against rivals CNN and MSNBC. Deadline spoke with some of the hosts of The Five about CBS anchor Scott Pelley’s slam of cable news, Jeff Zucker, Hollywood failings and Jimmy Kimmel’s viral video scam.
DEADLINE: Earlier this summer in an interview I did with Scott Pelley, the CBS anchor slammed cable news networks as getting “one small part of the viewership” and content to “be happy with that 200,000 viewers, 300,000 viewers that they have.” A lot of our commenters took him to town for so dramatically downplaying cable news’ audience. Ring true to you guys?
GREG GUTFELD: Yeah, first off, who is Scott Pelley? Now, does he work in media or soccer? Whatever, he’s entitled to his opinion and I totally support him. And he was a really good soccer player.
BOB BECKEL: I just thought it was a cheap shot. Why did he have to go out of his way to say that? That’s the thing that bothers me. For a guy that’s a reporter and the anchor of the CBS News to say 200,000 people, do your homework. Look at it and say, “Gee, The Five has over 2 million people!” Now, why does he have to make that gratuitous comment? The fact of the matter is, when Walter Cronkite led CBS, they had twice the audience they got now, probably more. No they’ve done a good job of getting it down to, what is it, 7 million now? And we have, on any given day, 2 million-plus. If you do our repeat it’s about 2.5 million, so we ain’t to far behind that boy and he’s got exposure of a 100% of the TVs in the country and we don’t. So let him keep talking like that, that’s fine. He’s trying hold onto that job and if he wants to hold onto the job, good for him. I don’t watch him.