Most TV news aficionados were prepared to tune in to the day’s seemingly ubiquitous coverage of O.J. Simpson’s parole hearing at 1 p.m. eastern — the exact time the event was slated to start in Las Vegas. But NBCUniversal’s news outlets jumped in early.
Andrea Mitchell told viewers of her regularly scheduled 12 p.m. eastern program Thursday that she was handing things over to anchor Craig Melvin at 12:45 — three-quarters of the way through her program. Melvin hosted a quick preview of the hearing and what it meant, interviewing former Simpson prosecutor Craig Melvin. CNN stayed with John King’s “Inside Politics” and Fox News Channel kept on with “Outnumbered,” the programs that normally appear at noon on their schedules.
NBC had been expected to break into regularly scheduled programming at 1 p.m., but NBC News started a “Special Report” anchored by Lester Holt and Savannah Guthrie at 12:58 p.m. instead. ABC News and CBS News started minutes later.
The moves by NBCUniversal suggest the company expects significant interest in the proceedings, and wanted to move quickly to capture viewer interest before one of its rivals could.
Rivals quickly joined the fray. George Stephanopoulos anchored an ABC News special report. Anthony Mason led CBS News coverage. Shepard Smith anchored Fox News Channel. Brianna Keilar anchored CNN leading into coverage of the hearing.