HLN celebrated the five year anniversary of its relaunch as a personality-driven news network over the weekend.
Executive VP of CNN Worldwide Ken Jautz, who oversees HLN, tells TVNewser, “The fact that we’ve nearly tripled our primetime ratings since we relaunched 5 years ago is a testament to the hard work and innovative thinking of our talent and show teams. It’s been an exciting ride since we moved into personality-driven programming — I’m glad we took the risk, and I’m even more glad it paid off.”
Part of the HLN’s repositioning included developing an evening line-up that gave Glenn Beck his television debut and now includes Jane Velez-Mitchell, Nancy Grace, and Joy Behar. In February of 2005, then Headline News launched Grace’s program, “Prime News,” and “Showbiz Tonight,” which Jautz describes as “the biggest change in format we’d ever attempted at any CNN network.”
In an internal newsletter to HLN staff, Jautz writes:
All of this has led to journalism and shows we can be proud of, recognition and buzz, new advertisers and new audiences, and record ratings for the entire network over the past few years.
Last year was HLN’s best ratings year ever. The network has grown from averaging 211,000 Total Viewers in primetime in 2004 to 661,000 in 2009. In younger views, HLN’s up from averaging 84,000 in 2004 to 251,000 in ’09.
Jautz’s full note after the jump…
This month marks the 5th anniversary of the revamp of CNN Headline News, and the beginning of our transformation to HLN. We launched Nancy Grace, Prime News and ShowBiz Tonight in February 2005, and at the time it was the biggest change in format we’d ever attempted at any CNN network. There was, shall we say, spirited debate over whether adopting personality-centric, point-of-view programs was the right move for a CNN-branded network. Five years later, all three programs have repeatedly broken their own ratings records, Nancy Grace is consistently one of the highest-rated shows in all of cable news, and our entire primetime line-up is getting triple the audience it did in early ’05. Triple.
It’s true what they say: with great risk comes great reward.
But those three shows were just the beginning. We continued to develop our personality-based programming over the next few years, launching Morning Express with Robin Meade, Glenn Beck, Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell, and The Joy Behar Show — and took on production of the In Session block on truTV. We also created several original programs for our weekend lineup in Not Just Another Cable News Show, News to Me, and Clark Howard. And, oh yeah, we changed the name of the network and created a new look and logo, too.
Our hosts and their show teams have a proven eye for what our audience responds to. There isn’t another network that is as interactive as we are, from on-air viewer comments to online viewer polls. We strive to be innovative in our collaborations (like partnering with Turner Sports for With All Due Respect), our off-channel partnerships (like Nancy Grace’s new digital fingerprinting initiative), and, most of all, in our programming (continuing to complement CNN’s brand of journalism while introducing new talent and new formats to our viewers). All of this has led to journalism and shows we can be proud of, recognition and buzz, new advertisers and new audiences, and record ratings for the entire network over the past few years. And it makes each of you a member of one of the most creative and effective teams in all of cable.
As we approach this anniversary on February 21, I want to salute you all, and thank you for your contribution to making HLN a success.