A high-profile shakeup of CNN’s programming and personalities may be on the horizon under the pressure of ratings continuing to plummet.
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The ratings situation for CNN and MSNBC have continued to deteriorate in recent months, and as a result they continue to make major changes in a desperate attempt to save their networks.
“MSNBC finished last week No. 9 on basic cable with an 800,000 primetime viewer average. That’s the network’s lowest finish in the daypart in quite some time—and is -22% from what the network averaged in the daypart the previous week. MSNBC also averaged 556,000 total day viewers this past week, No. 3 on basic cable and -16% from the prior week. When it came to adults 25-54, MSNBC averaged only 71,000 in primetime this past week (No. 43 on basic cable). That’s -35% from the prior week. The network also averaged 58,000 adults 25-54 in total day, which is -26% from the prior week and No. 33 overall on basic cable. The 71,000 and 58,000 in the aforementioned measurements represent MSNBC’s lowest number in each since 1999,” AdWeek reported.
“Elsewhere in cable news land, CNN averaged 603,000 total viewers in primetime last week, down -19% from the week prior. CNN’s A25-54 viewership in primetime (122,000) was -40% from the prior week. Additionally, in the total day, CNN lost -16% in total viewers (458,000) and -26% in the key demo (96,000). CNN had its lowest-rated Monday-Friday since the Obama administration,” the report added.
“CNN dropped -23% in average total primetime viewers and -27% in the primetime demo, -17% in total day viewers, and -20% in the total day demo. MSNBC struggled the most relative to 2021, -37% in average total primetime viewers, losing more than half of its A25-54 audience in primetime (-55%), to go with -26% in total day viewers and -41% in the total day demo vs. the year-ago week, which also started on Memorial Day,” the report continued.
Now that the new owners have taken over, it seems the business is about to undergo some changes in a big way.
A number of CNN’s biased hosts, including analysts Brian Stelter and Jim Acosta, could be replaced by new hosts as the network adjusts to dramatically improve their reputation.
According to Axios, Chris Licht, the newly appointed head of CNN, “is evaluating whether personalities and programming that grew polarizing during the Trump era can adapt to the network’s new priority to be less partisan.”
As per three sources close to the situation, if the talent cannot adjust to the current environment and become more straight-forward and less partisan, they are at immediate risk of losing their jobs.
It is reported that Licht wants to give the current talent the opportunity to prove that they are capable of doing straight news in a way that does not further tarnish CNN’s reputation at this time, which seems to already be seen in a poor light right now.
“We are truth-tellers, focused on informing, not alarming our viewers,” Licht said to employees in a memo. “If talent cannot adjust to a less partisan tone and strategy, they could be ousted, three sources familiar with the matter tell Axios.”
In addition to this, there are other changes expected as well. Licht agrees with those who have also noted that CNN utilizes the “Breaking News” banner far too frequently.
“Something I have heard from people both inside and outside the organization is complaints we overuse the ‘Breaking News’ banner. I agree,” the new boss said.
“It has become such a fixture on every channel and network that its impact has become lost on the audience. Starting today, CNN has added a ‘Breaking News’ guideline to our stylebook. A special thank you to Sam Feist, who led the team that put the guideline together. It certainly will need tweaks, so we are open to feedback, but this is a great starting point to try to make ‘Breaking News’ mean something BIG is happening,” he said.
In his opinion, Licht believes that the news network should put more emphasis on nuance rather than hyperbole.
“A month into his tenure as the new leader of CNN, Chris Licht is changing the news network from the Jeff Zucker days, encouraging less hype and more nuance. Some at the network are skeptical,” The New York Times tweeted.
In another report from TVNewser, it was revealed that Warner Bros. Discovery had begun laying off staff members less than a month after CNN’s failed streaming service was shuttered.
“It is unclear how many people are affected in total, but approximately 23 staffers in CNN’s Hudson Yards offices were told today that their positions were being eliminated, according to a source. Another source confirmed that layoffs had occurred, but noted that the company is still trying to place those impacted CNN+ staffers in other positions around CNN and Warner Bros. Discovery,” TVNewser reported.
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Licht said in an internal memo that “all CNN+ employees will continue to be paid and receive benefits for the next 90 days to explore opportunities at CNN, CNN Digital, and elsewhere in the Warner Bros. Discovery family.”
“Staffers who aren’t absorbed in the new Warner Bros. Discovery will receive a minimum of six months of severance, Licht told CNN staffers at a separate town hall,” TVNewser reported.
“Last month, Warner Bros. Discovery shut down the highly-publicized subscription-based streaming news service CNN+, less than a month after it launched. That decision came less than two weeks after WarnerMedia and Discovery formally merged. Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav has pledged to find $3 billion in cost savings, raising the likelihood of significant layoffs as the companies combine,” the report added.