Headline News…and Opinion

By Chris Ariens 

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Three years after a programming shake-up, Headline News is celebrating with ratings growth that is due, in large part, to opinionated show hosts Nancy Grace and Glenn Beck. The two shows helped make 2007 HLN’s best year ever in Total Viewers for total day and prime time. It was also the best year ever in the A25-54 demo in prime time.

Adding Grace and Beck to the line-up, as well as reviving Showbiz Tonight has helped Headline News grow 81% in Total Viewers and 75% in A25-54 in prime time.

And, perhaps building on the success of the opinion-driven programs, an interesting on-air change occurred this week. Erica Hill, who departed HLN for CNN last month, was replaced by anchor Mike Galanos on Prime News, the network’s 5-7pmET program. The new program has taken on a decidedly opinionated tone. At the start of last night’s show, Galanos said, “It is our goal everyday to bring you stories…that make your blood boil a little bit. You can tell I get a little fired up. You’re going to get my take on stories like that…”

As one TV insider put it via email last night, “The shift to opinion oriented news is not a welcome one and frankly Galanos doesn’t have the gravitas to pull off a Howard Beale.”

A Headline News spokesperson tells TVNewser the show is, “adding more point-of-view dialogue which includes Mike Galanos‘s reaction as a starting point for guest-driven segments.”

How long it will last is anyone’s guess. But the show is coming off a strong run with Hill at the helm. The 6pm hour was the fastest-growing show in its time slot (up 23%) from 2006 to 2007.

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