Casey Anthony’s murder trial is easily the biggest television news event in Orlando’s history.
Each day, it seems, the local television stations keep turning their coverage up a notch. All aired the opening statements, then planned to settle into live streaming coverage that would appear mostly online. But that plan went out the window almost immediately when Casey’s father, George Anthony, was called as the state’s first witness. Just minutes after they had returned to regular programming, they were cutting in with George’s testimony. It was a sign of things to come.
WKMG-Local 6 began broadcasting the trial on its digital subchannel 6.2, but has been dropping its afternoon programming to air the trial on its main 6.1 channel.
WFTV-Channel 9 opted to start carrying coverage on its sister station, WRDQ-TV 27. But once Oprah Winfrey’s show ended, WFTV replaced it at 4 p.m. with live coverage of the trial to lead into its 5 p.m. newscast. Now, WFTV has moved all Casey coverage throughout the day over to Channel 9.1 — bumping ABC soaps for this real-life drama.
Today, WOFL-Fox 35 — which is also airing the trial on its main channel, aired a station promo touting that its “the No. 1 choice for Casey Anthony coverage” — based on Nielsen ratings. (Really, a promo for that? See for yourself below.)
But its not just Orlando stations that are obsessed with the trial. Tru TV and HLN have been adding live coverage, and HLN’s primetime shows with Dr. Drew and Joy Behar are dominated by Casey trial discussion.
If and when Casey Anthony takes the witness stand, I would not be at all surprised to see CNN, Fox News and MSNBC carry that live. The only question is when the jury finally delivers its verdict, will main networks ABC, CBS and NBC carry that live? I wouldn’t bet against it.
The other question I have is how much is this coverage costing Orlando’s stations’ pocketbooks? In addition to fees for parking their mobile “studios” across the street from the Orange County Courthouse and the Monday-Saturday staffing for trial sessions, they are losing commercial revenue during non-stop trial coverage. (I won’t even get into the online costs involved with bandwidth fees for all the streaming video folks are watching online.)
Will it all be worth it?