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CNN Shelves Show of Popular Hosts

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The CNN primetime program “King Charles,” co-hosted by Charles Barkley and Gayle King, has concluded after a six-month period. Despite the prominence of its hosts, the show faced difficulties in drawing a significant audience, marking a low point for CNN in its attempt to rejuvenate its evening programming.

Launched in November 2023, “King Charles” was an adventurous move by CNN to bring a new spark to its primetime slot. The program, anchored by NBA icon Charles Barkley and experienced journalist Gayle King, was designed to mix current events discussions and celebrity interviews, taking advantage of the compelling dynamic between the two hosts. Despite this ambition, the show premiered to a meager 501,000 viewers, the lowest for a CNN primetime weeknight show in over 10 years, with only a slight improvement afterward.

The show, which aired at 10 p.m. on Wednesdays, encountered fierce competition from Fox News’ “Gutfeld!” and MSNBC’s “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell,” both of which significantly outpaced “King Charles” in viewership. Nielsen ratings showed “Gutfeld!” attracting 2.2 million viewers and “The Last Word” garnering 1.5 million, dwarfing the average of 459,000 viewers that “King Charles” maintained over its 14 episodes.

The Barkley and King project was notable for its focus on general interest and entertainment topics, deliberately avoiding political discussions. However, this format did not resonate enough to garner a large audience. While the show drew a younger and more diverse demographic, this was not sufficient to offset the low viewer engagement.

Despite its less than stellar performance, CNN had always intended for “King Charles” to be a limited series, originally slated to run into early spring. This timing coincided with the NBA playoffs, necessitating Barkley’s return to his duties on TNT’s “Inside the NBA.” This would have introduced scheduling complexities that would have made the continuation of the show challenging.

“King Charles,” despite not living up to expectations, was part of a larger plan by CNN’s new leadership to diversify programming and experiment with new formats. This strategy has seen a series of lineup changes and new shows as the network aims to reestablish itself in the competitive cable news arena.

For fans of Barkley and King, the end of “King Charles” might not mark the last of their joint ventures. Both have shown interest in future collaborations. On their final broadcast, King and Barkley thanked their production team and hinted at future projects. “I have loved working with you. And something tells me, Charles, this will not…be the last time we’re working together,” King stated during their sign-off.

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