Monday, June 04, 2012

CNN's Gamble With Anthony Bourdain

David Carr takes a look at CNN's hiring last week of Anthony Bourdain.

CNN, the former cable news leader, is at loose ends, having recorded its lowest ratings in 10 years in April. The channel still makes a lot of money, an expected $600 million in operating profit this year. But nothing — not the lift of an election year, the switch-out of Piers Morgan for Larry King or firm edicts from Time Warner management — has moved the needle on viewership.

Even as profits pile up, CNN is in danger of becoming a niche channel. Perhaps signing a proven niche player — according to Nielsen, Mr. Bourdain’s show draws about 450,000 viewers on a channel that lives far down the dial — is a small part of the answer.
It’s not as if Mr. Bourdain is a television lightweight: He and his production company, Zero Point Zero, which will continue to produce the show, have won Emmys for programs on Haiti and Laos, and the crew was nominated for an Emmy for an episode shot in Beirut during Israel’s 2006 war with Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Mark Whitaker, managing editor of CNN Worldwide, has been working to decrease the network’s reliance on politics, where its middle-of-the-road approach often suffers in comparison to the edgier, more partisan offerings of Fox News and MSNBC. He began talking with Mr. Bourdain back in March in the belief that the chef’s penchant for traveling to far-flung places like Thailand and Saudi Arabia was a fit with CNN’s international credentials. More important, Mr. Whitaker wanted CNN’s first move out of its lane to come with a ready-made audience attached. CNN has no trouble attracting eyeballs, it just has trouble persuading them to stick around when the world is not on fire.
“Tony is appointment viewing and sticky in a way that we need to be,” Mr. Whitaker said on the phone. “We are big fans of what he does and what he stands for, which is global and smart, but he goes beyond politics and war coverage. We need to be broader than that and we are looking hard to make that happen. Tony was the first person that came to mind.”

 You can read Carr's full piece here.

Labels: , ,


Anonymous Anonymous said...

nice posting.. thanks for sharing..

8:56 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home