TV News Doldrums? How About A Little Fictional Help

Generally, TV news networks be subject to whim of the news cycle; terrorist attacks, plane crashes, big weather disasters, or massive political changes can all spike interest.

Turner Broadcasting’s HLN -- which was looking for a brand shift to a somewhat lighter edge to its sister network CNN -- is now moving again -- more into full-on general entertainment.

It will be running occasional movies in prime time under a series called “News and a Movie,” which will show a film wrapped around news segments and in-studio discussion, focusing on key current/news events in relation to the movie.

First up “Glory,” a 1989 Civil War-themed movie focusing on an escape slave portrayed by Denzel Washington. The movie will run, Thursday, February 12; as February is Black History month. The “News and a Movie” is hosted by Holly Robinson Peete and CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin.



Will movies lift ratings for a news channel? It couldn’t hurt.

For 2014, HLN averaged 228,000 total all-day viewers (tied for 47th place); and 287,000 total prime-time viewers (tied for 48th place). This is down from 2013 when it average 264,000 average viewers all-day (tied for 35th place) and 346,000 primetime viewers (tied for 38th place).

It has long been a long-time dilemma of many niche cable networks -- how to grow the brand, in terms of viewers, advertisers, and overall business.

Remember MTV was once a channel only running music videos; A&E Network devoted to historical programming/high-end arts entertainment; and Discovery airing virtually all documentaries.

TV news channels are another matter: One can only expand so much. For the last decade and a half, much has come with expanding commentary, opinion and a panel of experts discussing news events.

A year ago HLN -- one of the smallest cable TV news players -- said it would focus more on social media connections. HLN made a deal with Twitter in an effort to target millennials in April 2014 -- as part of an overall effort incorporate social-media components into its networks where consumers are searching and sharing “all day long, nonstop and in real-time.”

At that time, Albie Hecht executive vice president/general manager, HLN and former Viacom executive, said: “Just as MTV was adopted by a disconnected target audience that was underserved by television, HLN will be the first TV home to embrace the social-media generation and champion its interests.”

And now we have full-on prime-time movies on HLN -- the former Headline News.

Is Turner angling to become to develop another entertainment-oriented channel? I know one thing: One can almost expect to see some on-air TV promos on entertainment channels TNT and TBS to help out.

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