News

HLN Eyes Ratings Bounceback

4/12/2010 12:01 AM Eastern

HLN is looking to remain competitive
in a crowed cable news marketplace
by reaching out to female viewers
through a primetime lineup of issueoriented,
news talk shows hosted by prominent
female personalities.

The former CNN Headline News — which
became HLN in 2009 — is coming off a
record-breaking ratings year since its rebranding,
through an increased focus on
talk and issue-oriented programming targeted
to a nontraditional news audience of 25-to-
54-year-old women, according to Ken Jautz,
executive vice president of CNN Worldwide.

In Spetember The Joy Behar Show — starring
the comedienne and host of ABC’s The View
— joined the primetime lineup to complement
long-running legal-news talk show
Nancy Grace, helping the network to a viewership
record among the core female 25-to-
54 demo, Jautz said.

HLN’s “more humanizing” approach to
news and news talk, which began five years
ago, has helped achieve record ratings performances
over the past three years. In 2009,
HLN averaged a network record 560,000
viewers in prime time and a network-high
151,000 among females ages 25-to-54.

“This isn’t your old Headline News — this
is HLN, and in primetime it is personalitydriven,
opinion-type programming, but in a
very humanizing way,” said Greg D’Alba, executive
vice president and chief operating officer for CNN Ad Sales and Marketing. “Our
intention was to separate the old Headline
News from CNN to create a different program-
content expectation, and we were very
willing to accept the fact that we could have
a new, female-revitalized audience ... coming
from other female-skewing networks.”

HLN is confident it can continue
that ratings run despite a slow
start to the 2010 campaign. In the
first quarter, it suffered a 24% drop in total
viewers to 498,000 from 656,000 and a more
precipitous 40% drop among women 25-to-
54 to 114,000 from 189,000 during the same
period last year.

“Ratings will fluctuate, of course, but as
long as we continue to focus on how we can
deliver programming that our audience responds
to, we’re confident we can maintain
momentum — and, ideally, build upon it,”
Jautz said.

HLN’s 70% skew in female viewers during
primetime has helped attract blue-chip
advertisers that had not advertised on HLN
previously. D’Alba said last year alone lifestyle
related-companies such as Subway,
Pepsi, Del Monte, Energizer, Expedia, Sunny
Delight and Dove joined the advertiser
roster.

D’Alba wouldn’t identify new advertisers
on board for 2010, but did say that the network
has picked up new ad deals with major
brands in the fashion/apparel and food
categories.

“These advertisers are not typically news
advertisers, but instead are buying into the
promise of HLN,” he said. “Going into the upfront
I like that we have categories and advertisers
that will buy HLN on its own as well as
part of a component to a bigger CNN buy.”

Katz Television Group director of programming
Bill Carroll said HLN has
been successful in distinguishing
itself from its news competitors, including
CNN.

“What you need to do [in the cable news
space] is find ways to differentiate yourself,”
Carroll said. “It would appear, especially
in primetime, that news is personality driven,
and HLN has certainly gone toward
distinctive female-driven personalities, to
[its] benefit.”

While the network has moved toward
a more talk-oriented format, it still offers
breaking news targeted segments throughout
other dayparts. Entertainment news
comes via signature series Showbiz Tonight,
airing live daily at 5 p.m. and 11 p.m.

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