I have to admit. I have spent virtually no time on the Casey Anthony trial. I’m not even sure why this is getting so much attention compared to many other criminal trials but it clearly has appeal among a subset of women viewers, especially fans of Nancy Grace.
Atlanta-based HLN has been taking full advantage of the trial, providing expansive coverage during the day and into the evening hours.
The windfall: big ratings, relatively speaking. Viewership began climbing once the trial began in late May. Its June ratings were its strongest ever in total viewers, behind only Fox News and ahead of sister station CNN and MSNBC. During the day, it averaged 601,000 viewers vs. 303,000 in June, 2010. In primetime, it averaged 982,000 viewers vs. 592,000 in June, 2010.
Nancy Grace, who contemptuously calls Anthony “tot mom,” pulled in a record 1.5 million viewers per night in June, 80 percent more than a year earlier.
On Wednesday, when the defense called its final witnesses, HLN beat all cable news networks among 25 to 54 year olds full day and primetime. It averaged 357,000 all day 25-54, its best numbers in that demo since it moved to long-form programming in 2005. Nancy Grace pulled in 676,000 viewers among 25 to 54 year olds, the most since January 7, 2009, another day in which she discussed the case.
The numbers today will likely be even bigger, given that the verdict was announced. (Anthony was not guilty of the main first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse and aggravated manslaughter charges. “Tot mom’s lies seem to have worked,” Grace said.)
I am working on a weekly print column about HLN’s coverage and will provide more information later this week.
By Rodney Ho, email@example.com, AJCRadioTV blog