When longtime HLN host Nancy Grace announced her decision to leave the network at the beginning of the summer, many wondered who would get her prime 8 PM spot on the network. Now, that question has been answered.
CNN anchor Ashleigh Banfield is transitioned over to the news network’s sister station, HLN, where she will bring a version of her “Legal View” program to Grace’s popular 8 PM time slot. But fans of Grace’s signature style and hashtag-ready commentary shouldn’t expect the same from Banfield.
Grace was a former prosecutor, accustomed to talking to juries. Banfield is a reporter – different approaches and styles, but network execs say expect the same strong entertainment value.
HLN executive Ken Jautz told CNN: “Ashleigh and her distinct journalistic style is the perfect fit as we continue to refocus on our news roots and increase our live hours of programming…”
Essentially, Jautz is selling “different, but just as good … maybe better!”
One key difference has already emerged. While Grace taped her show, Banfield will run it live at 8 PM. This different dynamic could create some additional energy and certainly more “up to the minute” commentary about current issues.
Anytime you go through a brand transition, you will have a split between old fans frustrated they’re not getting more of what they like and potential new fans who weren’t interested in what’s gone but might like what’s new.
It’s a fine line to walk. You don’t want to alienate any fans who could be retained, but you need potential new fans to give you more than a quick glance before dismissing your content. Fortunately, these days, there are a lot of new, interactive ways to get “eyes on content.”
A few well-distributed video clips on YouTube and social media, as well as ad buys during other programming will allow HLN to introduce Banfield to a potential new audience while also reconnecting with Grace’s diehard fan base.
The one element Banfield needs to carry over is Grace’s penchant for grabbing attention. You never quite knew what she would say next, but you could be certain it would be quotable, probably controversial … and all over the place the next morning.