Editor’s Note: CNN is currently searching for a new show to hold the 9 P.M. primetime timeslot after Piers Morgan Live was cancelled. Whatever show airs in the slot will be just the fourth holder of the slot in CNN’s over-thirty year history. TKNN is covering the search like no other news outlet.
The search for Piers Morgan’s primetime replacement is officially underway. The experimentation began last week as Michael Smerconish brought his weekend show to the weekdays, albeit only four weekdays. Wednesday’s show was pre-empted for breaking news coverage of the Fort Hood shooting. CNN brought in Wolf Blitzer to anchor the coverage which maintained the Anderson Cooper 360 branding. Chart 1 shows the ratings of Smerconish by day, and the chart will be updated to reflect the other inhabitants of the slot as more are available. Chart 1 also shows the sharp decline that Smerconish had from Monday to Tuesday and Chart 2 shows that CNN primetime as a whole declined, albeit not as much as Smerconish. Also important to keep in mind are the competitors to the next 9 P.M. anchor. Smerconish lost to Fox News’s Megyn Kelly all week and only beat MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Friday night.
On Monday, Smerconish had the highest rated show in the demo in primetime. His weekday premiere brought in 273. Although, it is important to note that was still enjoying a ratings bump to its MH370 coverage. This is shown in Chart 2. Wednesday’s bars reflect the fact that Blitzer was appearing instead of Smerconish.
Jake Tapper will begin his run this week and the show will continue the branding of The Lead. An interesting data point will be to compare the 4 P.M. showing to the 9 P.M. airing, in addition to the other angles. Both showings will be live, however it could cause confusion to some viewers. The blog CNN Commentary had called for Tapper to have a different name for his show in order to differentiate it from his afternoon show. The blog argued that the format of a primetime show and an afternoon show should be different.