Casey Anthony Trial Gives Tremendous Ratings Boost To Fourth Place HLN

Written by Michael Lambarde on Jul. 02, 2011

Casey Anthony is on trial for allegedly murdering her daughter Caylee is a terrible thing, but for one cable network that is providing near-24 hour coverage of the event, it is good television business. During any other time of the year, sans the month of June and late May, you could have looked at the cable ratings for the 24-hour, round the clock news channels and you would have seen that HLN rated in fourth place, behind FOX News, MSNBC, and its sibling channel CNN. Those days, at least for now, are over.

Since the initial coverage by the network covering the trial in Orlando, Florida in late May, the network has substantially increased coverage of the trial because of the good ratings business it drew for the network. The network is now covering the case around the clock and ratings for the network continue to increase as the case comes close to an end.

During the network’s coverage in the month of June compared to June in 2010, HLN scored its best month ever, increasing 86% in total viewers, from 529,000 viewers to 982,000 viewers and increased 79% amongst the coveted adults 25-54 demographic, increasing from 163,000 viewers to 292,000 viewers.Nancy Grace’s show, which has long been covering the Casey Anthony trial well before the trial, increased 85% in total viewers, from 815,000 to 1.5 million — its best month ever in total viewers. It also increased 87% amongst the network’s core demographic in adults 25-54, increasing from 242,000 to 452,000 viewers, its best since February of 2009.

Nancy Gracy’s lead-out, Dr. Drew, which was considered to be struggling after its recent premiere earlier this year has hit tremendous gains since he, too, started covering the trial. Just two months ago, he was often in fourth place overall in viewers and fifth place in the 25-54 demographic, drawing about 300,000 viewers total and about 150,000 viewers in the demo, but now he has taken the lead as the first both of those demographics. His show just hit a series high this past Thursday, drawing 1.72 million viewers and 552,000 viewers in the demographic.

Nancy Grace’s lead-in, Issues w/Jane Velez-Mitchell, has increased 110% in total viewers compared to last year, and increased 87% in the demo. That show, too, also hit a new high this week, drawing record viewers this past Wednesday (1.64 million viewers) and a record in the demographic, 498,000 viewers on Thursday. During any given day before the trial, Issues was bringing in about 300,000 viewers and just over 100,000 viewers in the demo.

Based on the ratings that HLN is drawing, now even far surpassing its parent network CNN, the network looks to add more trial coverage to its channel later this year. It is looking to air coverage of the Conrad Murray trial in September, who is being charged with the involuntary manslaughter of music icon Michael Jackson. “I want to replicate this when the Conrad Murray trial starts,” HLN executive Scot Safon told The New York Post.

As for the Casey Anthony trial itself, it is set to come to an end this weekend when the defense and the prosecution will give their closing statements on either Sunday or even Monday, if it’s delayed. The jury will then be given time to deliberate following the closing statements. Anthony is on trial for allegedly murdering her daughter back in the summer of 2008, but the defense is alleging that her daughter Caylee accidentally drowned in the family pool and that Casey’s father George helped cover up the murder.