There are two very distinct things to note about the way CNN has introduced the upcoming 7pmET show John King, USA to its audience – the show itself and the way it happened.
John King hosted a trial run of the program today on CNN.com/live, which gave a sneak peek at what the show will be, but also gave viewers a chance to give their take on the first look.
Let’s start with the show. Because it isn’t scripted and was almost exclusively about politics, it takes on a bit of a Morning Joe feel (TheLoweDown came up with the name “Evening John”). The difference is King isn’t as strong a personality of Joe Scarborough, and while the show is based around some big personalities (like RedState’s Erick Erickson and FireDogLake’s Jane Hamsher) the reporter Q&A’s are a spotlight as well (including Dana Bash – King’s wife – in the very first segment).
Also, while the show may be more conversational than other hard news programs on CNN, it is significantly more structured than Morning Joe. An interview with Rep. Ron Paul (video on next page) is “One On One.” Other segments including “The Pulse,” “Wall To Wall” and “Pete On The Street,” a man-on-the-street segment with comedian Pete Dominick. Each segment comes with its own logo, and are packaged in almost obsessive detail.
The decision to preview the show online is an interesting one – and led viewers to interact with the show’s staff and each other. Facebook comments streamed in, and commercial breaks streamed live, so viewers could see what happens behind-the-scenes. After the hour-long runthrough, King, his Executive Producer Michelle Jaconi and other CNN staffers went through a post-mortem to discuss what had just happened.
It was a unique viewing experience, and for those already looking forward to the launch, it allowed them to see what they’d be watching beginning Monday night. Will it bring in new tech-savvy viewers as well? We’ll find out next week.