CNN in crisis as profits drop below $1 billion for the first time since 2016 after new CEO Chris Licht pivots away from campaigning news and after killing off $300 million debacle CNN+

  • The network’s profit dropped below $1 million under new leadership as viewership declines
  • CNN ratings continue to dip while seeing the lowest numbers in seven years as the network’s CEO seeks for people to regain trust in the media
  • The company will hit around $950 million for the year, but growth is anticipated in 2023 
  • The economic report comes after the company halted CNN+ nearly a month after its release as viewership ratings were lower than anticipated 

CNN‘s profits are expected to drop below $1 billion under new leadership as TV viewership declined.

CNN is on-track to drop to $956.8 million in 2022, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence, the New York Times reported. The massive drop is the first time the news network has hit below $1 billion in profit since 2016.

Chris Licht, CEO of CNN since May, aimed to reach $1.1 billion in profit by the end of the year. Meanwhile, the company will hit around $950 million for the year.

The network’s rating continue to plummet as the company witnesses their lowest numbers in seven years. Competitor MSNBC has also seen declines since former President Trump took office.

The network has decreased in viewership by 27% since last year as an average of 639,000 tuned in this quarter, according to a report. MSNBC viewership is down by 23%. Meanwhile, Fox News viewership is up by 1%.

CNN CEO Chris Licht took over the network in May. Licht sought to make changes throughout the company to help viewers regain trust in the media

CNN CEO Chris Licht took over the network in May. Licht sought to make changes throughout the company to help viewers regain trust in the media 

CNN is expected to decline to $956.8 million in 2022, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence, the New York Times reported. The drop is the first time the news network has hit below $1 billion in profit since 2016

CNN is expected to decline to $956.8 million in 2022, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence, the New York Times reported. The drop is the first time the news network has hit below $1 billion in profit since 2016

When Licht took over in May, he attempted to resolve the declining numbers by riding of CNN+,  a new platform offering original programming, that failed after it was being streamed by only 5,000 to 10,000 people. The company is still paying costs associated with the platform.

The company also cut back on various budget sectors including travel expenses, according to The Times. To help solve the networks economic dilemma, Licht brought in Chris Marlin to help, an executive at a Florida real estate with a law background. 

Marlin, who has no experience in television networking, was hired as head of strategy and business operations in May. He has attempted to invest in advertising gigs with big companies, such as Microsoft. He has also tossed around ideas about expanding CNN into China.

Chris Marlin, who has a background in law and served as president of a real estate company in Florida, was hired in May to serve as the head of strategy and business operations. Marlin has thrown around ideas, such as expanding CNN into China

Chris Marlin, who has a background in law and served as president of a real estate company in Florida, was hired in May to serve as the head of strategy and business operations. Marlin has thrown around ideas, such as expanding CNN into China

One of first Licht's duties was to cancel the newly implemented networking platform, CNN+. The platform failed after only reaching 5,000 to 10,000 people

One of first Licht’s duties was to cancel the newly implemented networking platform, CNN+. The platform failed after only reaching 5,000 to 10,000 people 

Meanwhile, the company has spent millions on Ukraine and Russia war coverage.  

Licht’s goal is to ‘go a different way’ with the network at a time when ‘extremes are dominating cable news.’ 

On his first day in May, he said the network would move away from opinion-led shows that have dominated the company.

Licht said he wanted to focus on ‘straightforward facts’ and ‘insightful commentary’ as ‘too many people have lost trust in the media.’ 

In a memo to his staff Licht said: ‘I think we can be a beacon in regaining that trust by being an organization that exemplifies the best characteristics of journalism: fearlessly speaking truth to power, challenging the status quo, questioning ‘group-think’ and educating viewers and readers with straightforward facts and insightful commentary, while always being respectful of differing viewpoints.’ 

The 50-year-old continued: ‘First and foremost, we should, and we will be advocates for the truth.’ 

Licht seeks to bring CNN back to its glory days after it has significantly dipped in viewership in the past seven years. Licht seeks for the network to focus on 'facts' and 'insightful commentary

Licht seeks to bring CNN back to its glory days after it has significantly dipped in viewership in the past seven years. Licht seeks for the network to focus on ‘facts’ and ‘insightful commentary 

Licht said in a memo sent out to CNN staff on his first day in the new job saying the company will be 'advocates for the truth'

Licht said in a memo sent out to CNN staff on his first day in the new job saying the company will be ‘advocates for the truth’

Despite the dip in profit, Licht anticipates profits will increase in 2023 as he focusing on expanding the network with ‘editorial guidance’ rather than a ‘business strategy,’ a spokesperson told the New York Times.

He has ordered staff to stop using the phrase ‘the big lie’ to describe Donald Trump’s 2020 election fraud claims, as it’s a Democrat slogan.  

Hosts like ‘Reliable Sources’ Brian Stelter are often fond of the phrase to the point where they use it prominently in graphic packages and chyrons.

But Licht has ordered Stelter and other journalists to stop, and has suggested ‘Trump’s election lie’ or ‘election lie’ as possible replacements.

He issued the edict days after warning staff over their incessant use of ‘BREAKING NEWS’ graphics on stories, which he said was melodramatic, and ultimately diluted the power of big stories when they did break.

Licht is also said to be keen to move the well-resourced network back towards neutral news coverage, with CNN hailed over its coverage of the Ukraine war and other big international news stories.

A former producer at MSNBC’s Morning Joe and most recently with Stephen Colbert’s Late Show, this is far from the first time Licht has tried to get the network to tone things down since he took the reins.

Licht, as part of his efforts to revamp the outlet, has been evaluating news personalities and programs that became polarizing during Donald Trump’s presidency.

Those who fail to get on board with the network’s new priority to become ‘less partisan’ could be terminated, CNN insiders told Axios.

CEO Licht seeks changes to the network as he desires to change the focus on the company to not tarnish the CNN brand which was once known as 'the most trusted name in news'

CEO Licht seeks changes to the network as he desires to change the focus on the company to not tarnish the CNN brand which was once known as ‘the most trusted name in news’

Licht isn’t reportedly looking to get rid of primetime personality programming like Anderson Cooper or Don Lemon, but he does want CNN’s news staff to present information in a way that upholds the network’s apparent values of unbiased reporting.

Analysts allege this could prove problematic for network correspondents Jim Acosta and Brian Stelter, among others, who have ‘become the face of the network’s liberal shift.’

Licht wants to give the controversial personalities a chance to ‘prove they’re willing to uphold the network’s values’ before casting anyone out, the insiders said.

Specifically, he wants on-air talent, producers and bookers to make programming decisions that are focused on ‘nuance’ and don’t tarnish the CNN brand, which was once regarded as ‘the most trusted name in news.’

CNN was frequently a target for conservatives, a trend supercharged by former President Donald Trump’s ‘fake news’ label. Some liberals believe it should have been tougher on Trump, while others recognized a ‘witch hunt’ against No. 45.

During Trump’s 2017-2021 presidency, the network’s ratings climbed due to Zucker’s strategy to include commentary and opinion ‘to fight for the truth.’

However, since Trump’s departure from the Oval Office, CNN has seen its ratings fall from 700 million viewers aged 25 to 54 at the end of the fourth quarter in 2020 to below 200 million by the end of 2021, according to The Financial Times.

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