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The Continuing Saga of CNN’s Failing Numbers

by | Jun 6, 2024

By Laura Echevarria, Director of Communications and Press Secretary

Editor’s note. This appears in the June issue of National Right to Life News. Please share this story and the entire 48-page issue with your pro-life family and friends.

Since Jeff Zucker’s sudden departure in February 2022 as CNN’s CEO, the network has struggled to find a replacement.

Just a couple of months after Zucker resigned, CNN’s parent company Warner Bros. Discovery brought in Chris Licht to take the helm as CNN’s CEO. But as we’ve reported before, Chris Licht only lasted a little over a year when he was let go. The catalyst for his firing is attributed largely to the apparent problems that were outlined in the explosive 15,000-word profile of Licht by Tim Alberta, “Inside the Meltdown at CNN,” which appeared in The Atlantic.

David Zaslav, the CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery, the parent company of CNN, replaced Licht with Mark Thompson, the former director-general of the BBC and former CEO of The New York Times. Thompson too has been under scrutiny since his hire and the latest ratings numbers haven’t helped. Under Thompson, The New York Times improved its readership by expanding its subscriber base—the kind of expansion that CNN would like to see in its viewership.

But the turnaround hasn’t happened – in fact, quite the opposite.

During the week of May 13-19, 2024, for the 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. time slot, CNN only had 83,000 viewers in the 25-54 age group. Compare this to Fox News Channel which had 186,000 viewers in that key age group. Even far-to-the-left MSNBC had 111,000 viewers.

Part of the problem is that CNN has put itself on the left side of the center. This doesn’t appeal to Fox viewers, and it isn’t extreme enough for MSNBC viewers. While under Chris Licht’s leadership, CNN made a move to appeal to more conservative viewers but in the process, Licht lost the support of many CNN reporters in the newsroom after firing key news figures and commentators.

After Licht took over at CNN, I did one interview on the topic of mifepristone abortions but we’ve not heard from CNN since. This isn’t a surprise considering how much they have leaned into commentary instead of straight news and how much they have supported pro-abortion ideology over the years.

According to the New York Post, Thompson isn’t doing much better at improving ratings. The numbers from May are the worst since 1991.

One media insider was quoted as saying, “CNN’s new name is Cancelled Network Now.”

Another media insider said: “I know it’s cliché to say but Thompson is rearranging the deck chairs on The Titanic. He has no new ideas yet. But maybe his old media playbook will work.”

Thompson’s game plan seems to be to move CNN from its focus on general news and politics. In a pitch to advertisers, Thompson was quoted as saying,

Business and tech are news. Climate and weather are news. Health, wellness, and living longer are news. So expect to see us build new branded verticals in all these areas on TV, on our apps, and across our other platforms.

It remains to be seen if CNN can claw back the numbers it used to see. More people are gravitating toward news outlets that don’t insult them or their intelligence. Younger viewers are turning toward social media and influencers for news and information. Can the network that started the 24-news cycle survive the next evolution of news?

Only time will tell.

Categories: Media Bias