HLN, the cable network that has enjoyed tremendous ratings growth from its virtually nonstop coverage of the Casey Anthony trial, may now face a brutal withdrawal from its addiction to the case now that the verdict has come in.
Anthony was cleared by a Florida jury Tuesday of murdering her daughter Caylee, much to the chagrin of Nancy Grace, the HLN host who has been outspoken in her belief in Anthony's guilt.
"We must live with it," Grace said of the jury's decision.
Time Warner Inc.'s HLN will also have to live with it. The trial had given the channel, formerly known as Headline News, a sense of purpose. Besides Grace's constant coverage, the rest of the network also jumped on board. Much of HLN's programming focused primarily if not exclusively on the trial, including Dr. Drew Pinsky, who joined HLN this year and devoted extensive amounts of time to covering Anthony.
In using the Anthony trial to fill its schedule, HLN borrowed a page from Court TV, a cable network created to follow high-profile trials as well as coverage of the legal system.
But Court TV eventually found that there were not enough criminal cases to sustain big ratings. The channel, now called TruTV, has become more of an all-reality channel, with shows such as "Hardcore Pawn" about pawn shops and "Southern Fried Sting" about a group of rogue crime fighters.
The challenge for HLN will be to keep the viewers that it wooed with its Anthony coverage. Given that trials that captivate the nation the way the Anthony case seemed to are few and far between, that could prove to be difficult.