With the addition of TV creative executive Albie Hecht this week, CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker is sending a message: changes will be coming to CNN’s sister channel.
Unlike CNN, which has a clear news brand, HLN has never really had an identity. It launched as a place where people could tune in and always get the latest news, even when CNN was covering politics or speeches, or was airing a documentary. More recently, HLN has shifted to become something of a new Court TV, covering trials all day long, and analyzing them by night.
Last month, HLN announced that it would be adding health, wellness and cooking shows to its lineup. In other words, HLN is clearly shifting.
Hecht is the guy Zucker wants leading that shift. A well-known executive, Hecht became known as a skilled brander at MTV Networks, where he successfully turned The Nashville Network into Spike TV, and ran Nickelodeon when it was at a crossroads, developing and overseeing “Blue’s Clues,” “Dora the Explorer” and the juggernaut that is “Spongebob Squarepants.”
At his production company, Worldwide Biggies, he led the production of TV shows like “The Naked Brothers Band” and live events like the Spike TV Video Game Awards.
The big question is what Hecht and Zucker’s grand vision is for HLN. A little (but well connected) birdy at a cable entertainment network suggests that HLN’s future is as a nonfiction lifestyle network for women, akin to OWN. Food shows and health and wellness programs would fit in to that genre. So would some courtroom programs, which skew heavily female.
In other words, a cable channel that looks more like the later hours of “Good Morning America” and “Today,” rather than their newsy first hours.