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HLN Makes ‘HLN After Dark’ A Nightly Show, As Scot Safon Praises Team

HLN is coming off of a number of record-breaking months in terms of viewership, bolstered by coverage of the Jodi Arias trial, which culminated with last week’s guilty verdict. In a memo to staff this afternoon obtained by TVNewser, HLN executive VP Scot Safon  congratulated the team on their work, and previewed what HLN has coming down the pipeline.

Among the changes: “HLN After Dark” will become a full-time member of HLN’s nightly lineup, where it will focus “on stories (trials and otherwise) in the ‘court of public opinion,’” according to Safon’s note.  The channel is also gearing up for its next big trial, that of George Zimmerman, which begins June 10th, and the Daytime Emmy Awards on June 16th. There are also Nancy Grace, Dr. Drew Pinsky and Jane Velez-Mitchell specials in the works.

Read Safon’s full note to HLN staff, below.

May 13, 2013

Team,

Throughout the many months of planning our coverage of the Jodi Arias trial, we agreed that each of our platforms had to do its very best work. Now that the trial is coming to a conclusion, I am proud to note that HLN, IN SESSION and HLNtv.com all managed to exceed our highest expectations.

Your tireless efforts were apparent on-air, online and behind-the-scenes. Our teams presented this trial decisively, vividly and realistically. Strong promotion, PR and research ensured America knew HLN was the network to go to for the best coverage of this trial. Our on-the-ground efforts in Phoenix were outstanding, and the teams at HLN and IN SESSION again exemplified first-rate professionalism in a challenging, unpredictable venue.

Throughout the coverage, you demonstrated a remarkable level of innovation and creativity. Shows re-invented themselves, finding surprising new ways to present information and engage the audience. One of our most high-profile innovations, HLN AFTER DARK, proved that audiences would respond to some of our most ambitious risk-taking.
HLN AFTER DARK will soon take its place as a nightly HLN primetime program, focusing on stories (trials and otherwise) in the ‘court of public opinion.’

This is an exciting time for us. HLN’s coverage of the Arias trial delivered some of the biggest sustained audience numbers in the network’s history. With record-setting March and April numbers, HLN also ranked #1 among all cable news networks in the hours surrounding the verdict in the key P25-54 demo. HLNtv.com recorded its highest month ever (April), and scored its best day ever on Wednesday, hitting 10 million page views and 1.2 million unique visitors.

There is much more ahead. We’re planning for the Trial of George Zimmerman, with continuous coverage starting June 10. We’re putting final touches on an unforgettable documentary called NANCY GRACE BEHIND BARS, a haunting DR DREW primetime special about stalking, a new series called SECRET LIVES WITH JANE VELEZ MITCHELL, and a major pop culture event on Sunday June 16: HLN’s live presentation of the 40th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards.

You are a great and inspiring team. You care deeply about the viewers we serve, the stories we tell and the people we work with every day. Congratulations on the tremendous accomplishments of the past few months, and on the work you’ve done to pave the way for success ahead.

Thank you,

Scot

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