HLN Finds Itself At Another Crossroads, As It Slates Primetime Health/Wellness Block

By Alex Weprin 

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Later this year, HLN will start airing a two-hour health and wellness block on Sunday nights from 7-9 PM. The block will be based on the “Upwave” brand developed by parent company Turner Broadcasting, according to Variety. The formats and hosts are still to be determined, but the Upwave videos currently have a heavy focus on fitness and healthy eating (you can watch a sizzle reel here).

For HLN, it is another fork in the road as the channel has struggled to break apart from its bigger sibling and develop its own identity.

HLN is currently best known for its courtroom programming like “Nancy Grace,” but also features entertainment news programming like “Showbiz Tonight.” During the day (and when there isn’t a big trial), HLN’s programs seem geared to stay-at home moms, with a heavy emphasis on family-centric news programming. During the weekend it features long-form crime and mystery programming.

Now there may be cooking shows and fitness programs in primetime.

Earlier this month, HLN chief Scot Safon announced his intention to step down from his role and leave the company, with duties handed out over to Ken Jautz on an interim basis.

While CNN’s brand as “the place for breaking news” is a secure one, HLN’s brand seems rudderless and up in the air. A hodgepodge collection of different genres and formats does not make flow easy for schedulers, although the programs do skew toward female viewers. Whoever replaces Safon at HLN next will have a steep challenge ahead of them. Do they go all-in on Court TV 2.0? Do they try to make HLN the news and information channel for women? Or does HLN become something else entirely?

One thing is clear: the days of “Headline News” are long gone.