CNN CEO Chris Licht is looking to tap journalist Gayle King, 68, to save the network’s declining ratings, the Wall Street Journal reported. The network is also considering former NBA player and sports analyst Charles Barkley, 60, to co-host with the CBS This Morning anchor.
Nielsen data showed a 35% difference between their 2023 first-quarter viewer rating (575,000) and last year’s first quarter (822,000), making it the network’s lowest rating average since 2015. The low ratings are happening among the ages 25 to 54, which is their target audience.
Licht’s move to sign prominent names like King and Barkley came over a year after CNN fired its former popular anchor, Chris Cuomo, who was a 9 p.m. host. The network fired him for aiding his infamous brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who was accused by multiple women of sexual harassment while in office.
Firing Chris meant losing the competitive 9 p.m. time slot on cable news, which meant Licht would need to find another big name to steal the show and boost ratings.
King, a journalist with a pristine reputation, would put the network in good light and boost ratings since she’s a familiar public figure adored by many.
Although Barkley is known to be more about sports, the King and Barkley dynamic duo would be no different than former NFL player Michael Strahan co-anchoring ABC’s Good Morning America with Sara Haines or Robin Roberts.
At the beginning of the year, King announced that she renewed her contract with CBS News, which was supposed to end in April. In an interview with Adweek, the 68-year-old was asked about possibly joining CNN and what it would mean for her current position with CBS.
She responded, “I’m very close to Chris Licht. I like him very much, but on that question ‘me no speak English.’ Let’s just say I have two years left on my contract with CBS, and I have no intention of leaving CBS.”
Barkley told the New York Post that nothing was set in stone, but he only considered the hosting gig because of his “respect for Gayle.”
While continuing her work with CBS, King would host a weekly prime-time show.