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CNN Could Face Cuts As Ratings And Profits Continue Declining

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


Things are getting tough for CNN as it is suffering from its lowest viewership and lowest profits in a long time.

The network continues to lean on reporting about former President Donald Trump but with him not in the White House that could be playing a major factor in its decline, The New York Times reported.

The network has had an average primetime viewership of 639,000 this quarter which represents a 27 precent dip from the same time last year.

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It finds itself lagging behind MSNBC, which had its own 23 percent decline in viewership.

At the same time Fox News has seen in increase in its already gigantic viewership of one percent.

This comes as Warner Brothers Discovery has placed Chris Licht in charge of changing the direction of the network from a hyper partisan, liberal bias to straight news, though it appears that transition is not done.

Now, three months into Mr. Licht’s tenure, the network finds itself facing big questions about how it can continue to expand its business with its moonshot streaming service dead and the traditional TV business in structural decline.

Projections from S&P Global Market Intelligence say CNN’s profitability is on a pace to decline to $956.8 million this year. That would mark the first time since 2016 that the network had dipped below $1 billion in profit, according to three people familiar with its operations.

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Two people familiar with CNN’s operations said the network’s initial 2022 profitability target was $1.1 billion, which Mr. Licht is on track to miss by more than $100 million. But another person familiar with the matter said that by the accounting of company executives, Mr. Licht was on track to meet a profitability target of roughly $950 million for the year, since the network’s initial budget didn’t account for losses associated with launching the CNN+ streaming service.

The parent company could make cuts at the network if the bottom line in revenue does not improve but, in a recording, Licht said he had not heard about any cuts.

“No one has said to me, ‘You’re going to have to go cut this,’” he said. “I think there’s an acute understanding that they don’t know our business.”

In July it was reported that CNN staffers, hosts, and producers are growing increasingly anxious in an era of new management and historically low ratings.

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The network’s new corporate boss has said he wants programming that brings in “Democrats and Republicans,” but according to insiders, that’s not going to be a winning formula, the New York Post reported.

The outlet notes:

Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav said CNN is renewing its focus on “journalism” — signaling he wants the scandal-scarred, left-leaning network to eventually deliver straight news that also appeals to conservatives.

The CEO, whose company owns CNN, Warner Bros., HBO, Animal Planet and TLC, told reporters at Allen & Co.’s “summer camp for billionaires” in Sun Valley, Idaho, that CNN’s new approach will pay off in the long term, even as ratings sink to historic lows.

“Journalism first. America needs a news network where everybody can come and be heard; Republicans, Democrats,” Zaslav said. “I think you’re seeing more of that at CNN. We’re not going to look at the ratings and, in the long run, it’s going to be worth more.”

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Zaslav took over at Discovery and WarnerMedia after it merged to form Warner Bros. Discover in April. He then hired Chris Licht to head up CNN after former CEO Jeff Zucker was ousted earlier this year.

His mandate to Licht, who formerly served as the executive producer of CBS’ “Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” was to rid CNN of the hyper-left-wing partisan, Trump-focused coverage that Zucker emphasized.

“I think Chris is doing a great job pivoting CNN,” Zaslav told Variety.

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However, a well-placed source told The Post that a big reason for the ratings decline is in part due to removing “sensational” and “delicious” details that are commonplace on cable news outlets.

“The problem is we are not a neutral country,” the source said. “The ratings are getting worse because they are taking out all the bells and whistles. CNN’s ratings are as bad as local news ratings.”

“New management is not freaking out but everyone else at CNN is,” the source told The Post. “They want to fix the shows first, but they don’t realize the shows and ratings are connected.”

The Post adds: “After half a year of weak ratings, CNN turned in one of its worst months yet. According to TV ratings agency Nielsen, CNN’s weekend ratings for the month were the lowest of the year in both the all-important 25- to 54-year-old demographic and total viewers. It also coincided with a historic low for the network on Saturday, June 18 — which saw the network dip to 57,000 total demo viewers. That Saturday was also the worst-rated since 1993, which pre-dated CNN’s top competitors Fox News and MSNBC.”

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