Charles Barkley, Gayle King to host new CNN show; goal is good talks ‘without tearing each other down’

NBA legend Charles Barkley and Oprah’s BFF, Gayle King, want to have a “good conversation” on CNN, “without tearing each other down.”

In a bid to salvage CNN’s plummeted primetime ratings, the duo announced their new show, “King Charles,” on Saturday, during TNT’s “NBA Tip-Off.”

“Last month, CNN posted its lowest ratings in at least three decades among viewers 25 to 54 years old, according to Nielsen, and its average of 535,000 prime-time viewers in the first quarter as of March 24 was down 35% from a year earlier,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

The latest attempt by CNN’s Chief Executive Chris Licht to attract viewers to the flailing network will begin airing Wednesdays this fall at 8 p.m., according to the New York Post.

In a Saturday memo to staff, Licht called the new venture “exciting.”

“This show will be an exciting new way we are delivering culturally relevant programming and unique perspectives to our audience, from two incredibly dynamic personalities,” he wrote, according to the WSJ.

In a public statement, King, a longtime anchor on “CBS Mornings,” said, “I just think we need to figure out a way to have a good conversation without tearing each other down.”

Barkley, who as an analyst on “Inside the NBA,” recently signed a 10-year contract extension according to Fox News Digital, vowed the show wouldn’t rely on “clickbait.”

“All I want is people, even if I disagree with them, to be honest with me,” he said in a statement. “I don’t want them saying things to get clickbait. That is one of the things that is what drives me crazy about people in our profession right now.”

Though “King Charles” will explore politics and current events, he added, “we don’t want to say, ‘We’re a liberal, conservative, Republican, Democrat’ — that’s one of the things that’s already ruined television in general.”

It remains to be seen if the new dynamic duo can pull CNN out of its primetime tailspin.

As BizPac Review reported late in March, Nielsen data revealed that in the first quarter of 2023, the network’s quarter demo performance marked the worst in CNN’s prime-time demo since 1991, when ratings data was made available.

While ratings for every news network fell in 2023’s first quarter — likely a reflection of America’s tanking trust in the media — Fox News was ranked the nation’s most-watched cable network among both primetime and total day viewers, suffering drops of only 15 percent in total viewership and 38 percent in the total day demo.

With an 8 p.m. timeslot, it remains to be seen if King and Barkley have what it takes to compete with Fox’s most popular show, “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” which averaged 3.25 million total viewers through the month of March and 421,000 demo viewers.

On Twitter, many believe “King Charles” is doomed to fail.

“I see the next train wreck…” wrote one user.

“Another show no person will watch.” stated another.

“I can’t imagine why anybody would want to watch this,” declared a third.

Others noted that Barkley and King don’t seem to share a unified vision of their new show.

Noted Fox contributor Dom Domenech of the pair’s TNT performance, “When you go on air to talk about your new show with your cohost and immediately discover you have completely different ideas about what it is…”

Melissa Fine


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