Ten p.m. Eastern Time is arguably the most competitive time period on cable news at the moment. Fox News Channel’s Greta Van Susteren is still the clear leader, but her ratings in June were down double digits in total viewers and the demo from the same period in 2010. On MSNBC, Ed Schultz is up compared to 2010, when repeats of “Countdown” ran on MSNBC, but has not broken out since replacing Lawrence O’Donnell earlier this year.
CNN’s Anderson Cooper was up in both total and demo viewers compared to its performance there last year.
With the new scheduling moves made by CNN, the channel is effectively ceding 10pmET to FNC and MSNBC by running a repeat of “AC360” in the hour. When news breaks, it is a safe bet that Cooper will be covering it live at 10, but on more typical days, it looks as though CNN will be the only cable news channel on tape at 10 PM. Even CNN sister network HLN has original programming in the hour with Joy Behar.
Update: A CNN spokesperson says “CNN is always prepared to go live as news warrants. The 10 pm show will be updated or air live as necessary.”
CNN certainly has good reasons for putting “AC360” at 8 PM, as CNN/U.S. executive VP Ken Jautz noted in an interview with B&C:
“8 o’clock is the marquee hour on cable news, and Anderson Cooper is our flagship news program,” CNN/U.S. Executive VP Ken Jautz told Broadcasting & Cable‘s Andrea Morabito. “So it makes sense to put the flagship news program at the marquee hour. Eight p.m. sort of states what you are as a network. AC360 itself embodies what we see as CNN’s strengths and its uniqueness.”
Nonetheless, the 10pmET decision is a glaring one.
Bonus scheduling nugget: It is quite possible that the move could have Anderson Cooper going up against himself in some markets. His syndicated show debuts this Fall, and it is not unreasonable to think that it could air in the late afternoon in some places. On the west coast of the U.S., a station that televises “Anderson” the talk show at 5 PM or 7 PM would have to compete with Anderson Cooper the anchor, as his show airs at those times on CNN.