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CNN Ends Show Featuring Popular Hosts

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“King Charles”, the primetime show on CNN featuring Charles Barkley and Gayle King, has concluded after a six-month run. Despite the high-profile hosts, the program had difficulty drawing a significant viewership, marking a challenging period for the network as it sought to rejuvenate its evening lineup.

The show, a novel endeavor by CNN, debuted in November 2023 with the objective of infusing a new dynamic into its primetime slot. The show, helmed by NBA icon Charles Barkley and seasoned journalist Gayle King, aimed to mix discussions on current affairs with celebrity interviews. However, the show only pulled in 501,000 viewers on its premiere, the lowest for a CNN primetime weeknight series in over ten years, and saw marginal improvement thereafter.

Airing every Wednesday at 10 p.m., “King Charles” faced formidable competition from Fox News’ “Gutfeld!” and MSNBC’s “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell”. Both shows notably outperformed “King Charles” in viewership. As per Nielsen ratings, “Gutfeld!” drew in 2.2 million viewers and “The Last Word” had 1.5 million, significantly overshadowing the average of 459,000 viewers that “King Charles” managed to maintain over its 14 episodes.

The endeavor by Barkley and King was particularly distinguished for its intention to be non-political, focusing instead on general interest and entertainment. Regardless, this format needed to connect more effectively to develop a larger audience. There was some optimism with a younger, more diverse audience showing interest, but it wasn’t sufficient to balance out the low engagement.

Despite the lackluster performance, CNN had always intended for “King Charles” to be a limited series, initially planned to run until early spring. The end of the series aligns with the NBA playoffs, necessitating Barkley’s return to his role on TNT’s “Inside the NBA”, which created scheduling conflicts that would have made the continuation of the show problematic.

The underperformance of “King Charles” notwithstanding, it was part of a broader strategy under the new CNN management to diversify programming and experiment with new formats. This strategy saw several changes in the lineup and the introduction of new shows as the network strives to regain its position in the competitive cable news landscape.

For fans of Barkley and King, the end of “King Charles” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the last time the duo will work together. Both have shown interest in future collaborations. During their final broadcast, King and Barkley expressed appreciation for their production team and hinted at potential 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 said during their sign-off.

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