CNN to Put Gayle King on Primetime Show as Ratings Drop

CNN is zeroing in on Gayle King and Charles Barkley to host a weekly primetime show for the network, as chairman and CEO Chris Licht aims to revitalize the ratings-challenged nighttime lineup.

The Wall Street Journal reported that a deal with King is being finalized, but sources said that talks are ongoing with the two personalities

The intent has been to add an extra bit of star power to its 9 PM ET primetime hour, which has lacked a permanent host since Chris Cuomo was fired in December, 2021. That time slot has been among the most competitive on cable news.

King and Barkley would be a bit of an unconventional choice for the slot, but the plans also would go against the cable news trend of scheduling a five-night-a-week personality in primetime hours. CNN is said to have talked to two dozen or so names about filling at least one night a week in that time slot, with plans to fill remaining nights with special events like town halls and “big get” interviews with the network’s team of correspondents.

In talking about primetime, Licht has said that he views competition as all forms of media and entertainment competing for viewers’ time, suggesting a bit of different thinking for the nighttime hours. Barkley, who signed a new contract with CNN-parent Warner Bros. Discovery last year, himself has publicly confirmed that he was talking to the network about a show with King.

In recent weeks, CNN has experimented with special programming in that timeslot, but the ratings often have sagged. The network has emphasized that it has yet to fully promote such events, which have included a town hall with Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin and, last week, Jake Tapper’s interview with Jason Sudeikis.

All three cable news networks saw primetime ratings declines in February vs. 2022, but CNN’s were steeper. In the month, CNN averaged 587,000 viewers, down 24% from a year earlier, according to Nielsen. In the 25-54 demo, CNN averaged 122,000, down 42%, although that was greater than MSNBC, which averaged 119,000, off by 15%.

Licht previously worked closely with King as executive producer of CBS This Morning. After joining CBS in 2011, he oversaw a revamped morning show with King, Charlie Rose and Norah O’Donnell. King signed a new contract at CBS last year to stay on CBS Mornings. Doing double duty on different networks is not entirely unusual, as Anderson Cooper serves as a 60 Minutes correspondent while anchoring his weeknight CNN show and an upcoming Sunday night CNN series.

One thought on “CNN to Put Gayle King on Primetime Show as Ratings Drop

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  1. seriously? Gayle King and Charles Barkley?
    It will not do it for me.
    It may be that we are all burn out of the news as it seems nature, right wingers , Chinese and Russians are out to get us.
    How about some positivity? I am sure we can use some good news were people are not a–holes out to get the other side.

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