CNN Hires New Chief, But Streaming Problem Remains: What's The Plan?

What should CNN do now -- as a news organization with the hiring of Mark Thompson, who has been chief executive officer of The New York Times and a senior executive at the BBC before that?

Consider this: Competition is coming from where CNN might least expect it.

The broader view around this coming change isn't about whether CNN should be going right or left -- politically speaking. It must be about giving existing and future news consumers stuff they can really use and need.

Hurricane warnings, global conflicts, mass changes in the economy are obvious points of interest and news value.

But what about all the stuff in between including the stuff consumers like to talk and ruminate about -- like politics. How much opinionated political content versus usable political programming do they really need? 



Thompson has said recently that disruption and pressure is coming in all directions to the news business. Still, he says CNN does have incredible assets: Long term brand awareness and overall brand strength in journalism.

One main point of disruption: Relative newcomers vying to get on the TV news channel podium with  longtime number one and two leaders -- Fox News Channel and MSNBC. <

CNN, by all accounts, is solidly -- but none too happy  -- in third place in viewership. But it has been slipping in profitability. Revenues down some versus the year before to $832 million, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence, as reported by The New York Times. 

Looking over its shoulder companies/news operations like Newsmax, Nexstar Media Group’s NewsNation, and X (formerly Twitter) -- are all in contention looking to ascend to where CNN now occupies, at least from a viewership/user perspective. 

Going forward, Thompson will still need to address the whole streaming platform thing.

Warner Bros. Discovery executives already nixed the whole separate streaming platform idea of CNN+ a few years ago -- an effort pushed by previous CNN senior executive Jeff Zucker.

Instead WBD has taken the modest approach to incorporate some of CNN into Max, under a “CNN Max” channel --- only to live simulcast three shows hosted by Jake Tapper, Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper.

No one can blame stopping the pricey CNN+ decision considering where we now see an even tougher road to profitability for major legacy media-own streamers services (Disney+, Peacock, Paramount+). 

Giving CNN a backseat position on Max may not all be bad -- all this to avoid breaching any exclusively-oriented deals that hard-pressed money-losing pay TV cable/satellite/telco, and virtual companies currently have with the live, linear CNN network group.

Overall, transitioning from legacy to streaming will continue to be a struggle. It’s not going away anytime soon. For that, CNN, now under new leadership, needs a bigger and steadier plan.

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