CNN Wrecked

The stories about CNN’s rating have started to pile up. The most recent is from The New York Times, but it is just part of a trail of analysis about how the cable news channel’s audience has disappeared. CNN’s parent, Warner Bros. Discovery, has a debt problem, and CNN is not helping.

The Times piece pointed out that cable shows on other networks have drawn larger audiences than CNN when the same time slots are compared. “Last week, when the network aired the Biden and Zelensky interviews, as well as a town hall with Gov. Glenn Youngkin of Virginia, CNN delivered its fourth-lowest 9 p.m. weekly ratings in 24 years.”

A Nielsen analysis shows that CNN is also taking a beating from its primary competitors. During the week of February 15, 2,183,000 people watched Fox News, 1,171,000 watched CNBC, and 544,000 watched CNN. Ratings are the foundation of advertising, so CNN must also be in trouble.

Last year, Warner Bros. Discovery had a net loss of $7.3 billion compared to a net profit of $1.1 billion the year before. The company has almost $49 billion in debt; it is fair to ask how that will be paid off.

David Zaslav, Warner Bros. Discovery’s CEO, said when earnings were released, “With the major restructuring decisions behind us, this year we are focused on building and growing our businesses for the future, and we’re off to a great start.” That seems like a huge exaggeration. (Read about how CNN is battered by CEO problems.)

The additional problem CNN faces is that it has already overhauled most of its programming. It would need to overhaul its schedule to have a chance to get in the rating race. That would not only represent a major defeat. There is also no reason to think another set of new shows would solve the problem.

CNN has dug itself a hole, and there appears to be no way to climb out of it. (Click here for the 25 brands customers are abandoning.)

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