Friday, November 8, 2013

CNN to refocus away from news

After a year of falling ratings culminating in last week's foray into 5th place among cable news networks, CNN has announced another programming shift.  CNN, rather than ditching the programming guru responsible for the precipitous fall (Jeff Zucker) , is telling analysts and investors that it is committed to Zucker for the long-term and is committed to shift programming investments towards "unscripted" shows from outside producers (e.g., travel, food), panel talk programs, and what it's billing as "immersive nonfiction programs."
  Instead of the recent promises of "record profits" that never seemed to be realized, CNN and top Time Warner execs (corporate owners of CNN) are now talking about "programming investments" and warning that CNN isn't likely to see any income growth for years to come.
“Financially, we don't break out network by network, but I will tell you directionally, CNN’s operating income this year is down, and that is because of proactive decisions by [CNN president] Jeff Zucker and the new team there to try and invest in the programming in many, many dayparts,” (Time Warner C.F.O. John) Martin said.
The executives gave the traditional nod to what had been CNN's core focus - breaking news, but also gave no commitments on maintaining the staffing and scheduling necessary to be competitive in that area.  CNN's last major breaking news performance (election coverage last Tuesday) was a distant third behind Fox (which pulled more viewers than all of the other cable news networks combined) and MSNBC.
  Time Warner seems to be signalling that CNN will try to follow CNBC's shift to more of an entertainment focus in search of an audience.  As such, CNN, the first full-time news network, may well become the first of the cable news networks to abandon an emphasis on news programming.

Sources -  CNN on spending spree to rebuild channel; Zucker gets 'multi-year' runway to growth,  Capital New York

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