This is perhaps the buzziest meme circulating around the media world right now:
“The ratings for my program are not where I would like them to be … The simple fact is that not enough people want to watch my program.”
That was the brutally honest admission by CNN’s Campbell Brown in the wake of yesterday’s news that the anchor would be leaving the network.
Mediaite’s Steve Krakauer broke the story around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Shortly thereafter, Brown issued a statement confirming the rumours that she would be stepping down as host of her eponymous 8 p.m. show because of its low ratings.
“To be clear: this is my decision, and one that I have been thinking about for some time,” she stressed.
Here’s what some TV reporters have been saying about Brown’s departure so far:
The timing of the announcement came as a surprise to some at CNN. But Ms. Brown’s fate had been a topic of speculation for several months, and she was known to be unhappy in her time slot. A new executive producer was named to oversee the program just seven weeks ago.
It is debatable whether Ms. Brown is a cause of CNN’s low ratings or merely a casualty. The ratings history would suggest the second case.
When CNN president Jon Klein wooed Brown to CNN in the summer of 2007, she was entering the second trimester of her first pregnancy. Brown gave birth to baby Eli in December of that year. Her primetime premiere would have to wait until February of 2008. But by then the presidential primaries became the story, and Brown began anchoring a program called “Election centre.”
Her own primetime show, one Brown could make her own, would have to wait: “I think it’s going to be fairly similar in terms of content,” she told TVNewser during the RNC convention. “We’ll try to stick with the CNN mission which is that diversity of opinion. The name is going to change, but the focus won’t for a while.” That program, “No Bias, No Bull” debuted in October 2008.
Six months later Brown gave birth to a second son, Asher. When she returned form maternity leave, “No Bias, No Bull” was dropped in favour of the eponymous “Campbell Brown.” A few weeks later, Brown’s 8pm show hit an all-time low. “Campbell Brown,” and much of CNN’s primetime, was on the decline and has struggled since.
The question becomes – what would CNN put at 8pmET? One possibility is a return to a Crossfire-like program, a possibility thrown out in the last few months. And what would Brown do next? Well she has two young children, 2 and 1, both of whom were born since she came over to be a prime time host after her time at NBC. Hosting at 8pmET eliminated the possibility of being around at night.
And here’s a snapshot of Brown’s year-to-year ratings decline:
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