Analysis: Don’t Expect Networks to Pay Up For Casey Anthony Interview

By Alex Weprin 

Reports from the past few days have suggested that Casey Anthony’s legal team is already speaking to networks about securing her first interview, which would likely come a few months down the line. Nancy Grace is among those reporting that the Anthony team is seeking $1 million-plus for an interview. As astonishing number.

However, just because they seek it, it does not mean they shall receive it.

ABC News will almost certainly stay far away from Anthony, even if they were offered the interview for free. The revelation that ABC had paid well over $200,000 in licensing fees to Anthony’s family and legal team during the course of the case is a source of great shame for many inside the division. Those fees played a big role in new ABC News chief Ben Sherwood’s decision to cut back on licensing material from potential interview subjects. If ABC were to interview Anthony, the default assumption would be that they paid, and the division does not want to undermine the new policy.


CBS News has never been a player when it comes to paying for interviews. Its main newscasts now focus more on politics and policy, leaving crime and punishment to “48 Hours.”

Both ABC and CBS told The Hollywood Reporter‘s Marisa Guthrie that they would not license anything from Anthony or her team.

That would leave NBC, which now has a huge advantage in booking guests.

Without ABC to serve as a competitive bidder, NBC now has the leverage to secure interviews without having to pay license fees… if it so chooses. NBC’s “Today” and “Nightly News” are the most-watched programs in their time periods. NBC can — and does — argue that guests should choose them for the broadest coverage. That is the argument ABC made to Jaycee Dugard to secure her first interview. ABC featured Dugard on all of its programs, and its primetime special was a huge ratings hit, helping Dugard’s book debut at #1 on the New York Times Bestseller list.

For its part, NBC told Guthrie:

“We’ve talked with Baez about getting an interview with Casey Anthony, but only under NBC News standards and conditions: no payment, and absolutely no job offers for members of her defense team.”

NBC News standards and conditions have not stopped the network from licensing materials from interview subjects up to this point, but if there are no other bidders, NBC doesn’t really need to bid itself. It just needs to convince the Anthony team that they will get the most exposure. They also need to prepare for the backlash from viewers who’ve had enough of Casey Anthony.