This morning CNN extended Starting Point by a full hour to cover the latest Oscar Pistorius courtroom drama, thus hammering home a predicament the network now faces as it works behind the scenes to ready the next show which will occupy CNN’s morning timeslot.
Extending Starting Point creates an illusion the network really should be running away from as fast as it can; that Starting Point is still relevant. It’s not. It’s a dead show walking; its anchor soon to be dispatched to longform production exile (self-induced or otherwise). The sooner CNN embraces this new paradigm the better position it will be in when its new morning show debuts with Chris Cuomo and whoever CNN pairs with him (likely to be Erin Burnett).
CNN can ill-afford to create confusion for its viewers when the new show launches. It needs to acclimate them to where things are going. CNN does not achieve this by keeping Starting Point around or, worse, elevating its profile by keeping it on the air past its scheduled run time. There is nothing to be gained from running Starting Point over now. Whatever ratings gain the show achieves from such tactics is completely offset by the fact the show is already dead and the network is only building it up higher when it comes time to kill it which makes the fall all the harder and the changeover to the new show more difficult from a viewer standpoint.
Starting Point needs to die and it needs to die as soon as possible. Kill the show now and put on substitute anchors doing general news. Create a transition period between what was and what is going to be. The longer CNN keeps the show on the air and O’Brien anchoring it, the tougher the transition will be.