Just one week prior to the arrival of CNN's new general manager Princell Hair, the news channel ushered in its latest evening roster. Boyish anchor Anderson Cooper's fast-paced Anderson Cooper 360 now runs at 7 p.m. ET, and Paula Zahn has the plum 8 p.m. spot with Paula Zahn Now.
While Larry King Live is a network institution at 9 p.m. ET and Aaron Brown's NewsNight has occupied the 10 p.m. slot for almost two years, the early evening hours have been a revolving door. Remember Connie Chung Tonight at 8 p.m.? Remember when Crossfire ran for an hour at 7 p.m.? Just a year ago, that was the schedule.
This time around, CNN has high hopes for Cooper and Zahn. Although their shows "officially" debuted Sept. 8, both anchors had been warming up in their time periods since the summer. Zahn has been hosting in prime since late April, shortly after Chung bolted when CNN President Jim Walton canned her tabloid-like show.
So far, the new shows have yet to build very much. After one week, Anderson Cooper 360 was averaging 453,000 viewers, up 8% over the previous month. Fox News Channel's 7 p.m. show, The Fox Report with Shepard Smith, routinely draws more than 1 million viewers.
And at 8 p.m., Paula Zahn Now posted 585,000 viewers, up 4% from the previous four weeks. Her Fox competitor The O'Reilly Factor attracted about 2 million viewers.
CNN has pointed out that its marketing push for the shows is still to come.