Warner Bros. Discovery Hatching Plans To Add Live CNN To Max

Warner Bros. Discovery is strategizing about how to add live programming from CNN to its recently transitioned Max streaming service later this year.

The company is exploring ways to bring CNN content into the service without conflicting with its contracts requiring that traditional cable and satellite partners get first access to CNN’s live broadcasts, according to Bloomberg and other outlets that have confirmed the tentative plans.

CNN and WBD have not publicly confirmed the reports.

The possibilities being discussed reportedly include broadcasting CNN International, or even creating separate, live content for Max, despite WBD’s unwillingness to invest in such content for the barely-launched CNN+ streamer a year ago.

With younger consumers, in particular, garnering most of their news from social media, having more robust presence in social and straming is increasingly critical for all legacy news operations. MSNBC and Fox already offer some news shows, on Peacock and Fox Nation respectively, a day after their original broadcast.

After ousting Chris Licht as the network’s CEO after only a year, CNN is in the process of again rehauling its strategy to try to address its audience woes (its average primetime audience in May was down 16% versus April, to 494,000) and advertising declines.

CNN has now launched a “course correction” that includes “reversing a number of key decisions made under the previous leadership,” touts CNN’s own “Reliable Sources” newsletter.

For starters, CNN’s on-screen banners have been returned to a bolder style, banishing the “subdued and gaunt” fonts initiated by Licht, writes the newsletter’s editor, Oliver Darcy.

On a more substantive level, news coverage has returned to focusing on the day’s biggest stories, rather than “throwing everything but the kitchen sink at viewers.”

Most notably, on-air journalists who under Licht’s leadership “felt restrained as they delivered the news, unsure whether stating the truth on the contentious, politically charged issues that saturate the daily news cycle might land them in hot water” are now taking a “bolder,” and “more muscular” and confident tone, says Darcy.

Some of the changes, along with scoops like securing and airing the audio tape in which Donald Trump admits to retaining classified documents after leaving the White House, may be starting to show some results.

After lagging rivals in ratings — even right-wing network Newsmax, in some cases — CNN was the leader among the 25-54 demographic in prime time last Wednesday through Friday.

But as even Darcy acknowledges, the network still has a long way to go to recover its former news cred and market leadership.

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