Time Warner Inc. (TWX)’s HLN 24-hour news channel drew its biggest audience since the network was founded in 1982 with coverage of the Casey Anthony trial.
“June was the highest, most watched month in the history of the network,” Scot Safon, HLN’s executive vice president and general manager, said in an interview. “It’s really all due to coverage of the trial of Casey Anthony. Not just court trial coverage but also all the analysis.”
HLN had the most-watched program on cable television during the week ended July 10, according to data provided by Nielsen Co. Nine of the top 40 shows on cable last week aired on HLN, Nielsen said.
Nancy Grace, an HLN host, first began covering the story in June 2008 after Anthony reported her 2-year-old daughter Caylee was missing. Police found the child’s body six months later. On July 5, a Florida jury acquitted Anthony, 25, of murder and convicted her of lying to investigators looking into the child’s disappearance.
During build-up to the trial, other HLN hosts began talking with legal commentators, psychologists and other experts about different angles of the story, Safon said.
“The case was complicated and had a lot of angles around it,” he said. “It was a significant mystery that turned into a fairly important criminal case.”
Special episodes of CBS’s “48 Hours Mystery” and ABC’s “Primetime Nightline” on the Anthony case ranked among the 25 most-watched shows on the broadcast television during the same week, according to Nielsen.
HLN plans to use the same strategy on the Anthony case for covering the trial of Dr. Conrad Murray, Safon said. Murray, who is accused of manslaughter in connection with the death of Michael Jackson, has pleaded not guilty. A trial is scheduled to be held in Los Angeles in September.
“That will be a major initiative,” Safon said. “It’s not just a trial story. We don’t approach it like that. We approach it as a broader, deeper story.”
Time Warner, the New York-based media company that also owns CNN, fell 53 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $35.40 at 4:15 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares have climbed 10 percent this year.
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