The “Small Network” With Big Gains

By Chris Ariens 

Ken Jautz wishes every year would be like 2007. Jautz, who runs CNN Headline News tells TVNewser the 25-year-old network “has more viewers now, than it’s had in its history, even when we didn’t have competition.”

Jautz is coming off a strong October. Glenn Beck, which has been a part of Headline’s primetime since May, 2006 had its best month ever. Jautz says the show is “up 50% in viewers year-to-date, after being up 80% in the timeslot in the first year.” “He was a proven success in another medium,” Jautz says of Beck. “I expected him to resonate with the audience in TV just as he had in radio.”

Beck has a new competitor, starting Monday, when the mother ship moves Lou Dobbs to 7pmET. Jautz isn’t concerned. “Lou and Glenn are different people. Lou is a mix of news and commentary, one of the most experienced journalists around.” Beck, who makes clear on his show he’s not a journalist tends toward covering “pop culture, lighter topics,” says Jautz.

Photo: CNN Worldwide EVP Ken Jautz and Headline News host Glenn Beck.

The HLN success story extends to Showbiz Tonight, “up 50% year-to-date in total viewers as well,” says Jautz.

As for what lies ahead: “We’re always looking to improve the network and always looking for what’s the next step.” The growth “doesn’t mean we’re just going to rest on our laurels.” Case in point, HLN’s morning show, Robin & Company gets a name change Monday. “We’ve made lots of changes to that show in the last two or three months,” says Jautz. “Morning Express” is a better description for a faster-paced show that delivers “more news and interactive elements.” “The name change is a culmination of these changes.”

“Most people would think of Headline News as the small network in the CNN news group,” says Jautz, a 16-year CNN vet. “Yet the small network” is getting some big numbers.