CNN wants viewers to “go there.” And for CNN, “there” is everywhere.
The network announced today it is going to continue pushing the boundaries of traditional cable news by launching more exploratory programs weeknights at 9pmET hosted by proven TV talent: Mike Rowe, John Walsh and Lisa Ling, among them.
“What we did over the course of the last year was test that out,” CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker told TVNewser in an interview after his upfront presentation. He touted shows hosted by Anthony Bourdain and Morgan Spurlock, paired with documentaries like “Blackfish,” and “Chicagoland,” which complemented CNN’s breaking news coverage. “We were able to test out our ability to do both at the same time and that’s how we feel that it all works together,” Zucker says.
“As you see, none of this is about prison lockups,” Zucker joked, taking a jab at MSNBC’s popular “Lockup” franchise.
“Nobody should ever be confused about our commitment to live breaking news when it happens, as witnessed by the last six weeks,” Zucker said, refering to the network’s coverage of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Zucker acknowledged a drop in live ratings when coverage of a breaking story stops, and a documentary begins. “Frankly, at the end of the day, we get paid on the DVR playback,” he says. Still, he vowed to pre-empt the new 9pm block when big news breaks.
We asked several CNN anchors what they thought of the new primetime lineup, “I think it’s cool,” Anderson Cooper told us. “There’s a lot of different ways to tell a story. To me, the storytelling makes sense the way it’s going to work.”