Tuesday saw the opening statements in a case against Conrad Murray, for which Nancy Grace and company plan to deliver non-stop coverage
On July 5, when Casey Anthony was found not guilty of murdering her two-year-old daughter Caylee, reported missing three years earlier, HLN (formerly CNN Headline News) knew the ratings were going to go down. For six weeks after the trial began in late May, Nancy Grace, the legal commentator and television host who describes herself as someone considering issues from a victims' rights standpoint, had been yelling and screaming nightly on air: Casey Anthony was guilty. Grace was convinced. And whether because they admired her position or were watching for more reasons to criticize her, people were tuning in.
"She gave it the full P.T. Barnum treatment," Robert Thompson, a television professor at Syracuse University, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Rodney Ho. "She was like a circus advance man whipping up the crowds before the elephants arrive." On the final day of the case, nearly 3 million people tuned in to Grace's eponymous show, setting a record for her six years behind the desk. Hundreds of thousands of comments were left on her Facebook page. When all was said and done, HLN tallied the numbers: The third quarter of 2011 was the network's best ever, even though it was already hemorrhaging viewers before the quarter came to a close. In the month of September, long after the trial wrapped, total viewers during primetime fell 15 percent.