CNN profit could dip below $1 billion mark thanks to botched CNN+ launch, slipping ratings

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CNN profits could drop below $1 billion for the first time since 2016 as the network scrambles to reshape itself after ratings losses, leadership changes and the failure of its streaming service.

Benjamin Mullin, who reports for The New York Times, cites inside sources that the network is actively looking for ways to cut costs as it faces financial shortages from multiple fronts.

The network is reeling from the well-publicized failure of its much-hyped CNN+ streamer earlier this year, a massive misstep that cost the company millions and resulted in significant job cuts.

It’s also still contending with the ouster of former CEO Jeff Zucker and prominent anchor Chris Cuomo after an internal investigation into Cuomo’s alleged actions to support his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who was facing sexual misconduct accusations, uncovered a purported workplace relationship between Zucker and CMO Allison Gollust.

While that relationship was reportedly consensual and neither was married at the time, it was not disclosed as required by company policy. Gollust resigned as well and Andrew Cuomo has continued to deny any wrongdoing but also resigned.

CNN has seen its primetime ratings drop 27% in 2022, with MSNBC dropping about 4% less than that and Fox’s conservative commentary channel growing by 1%. Ratings typically heavily influence how much networks can charge for advertising, which is a key component of revenue, though well-known, widely-available cable networks tend to make most of their money from the fees it charges TV providers to carry the channel which is then, in turn, typically passed along to consumers via subscription fees.

CNN is still expected to make around $957 million in profit in 2022, which is still a tidy amount for new owner Warner Bros. Discovery. However, it is also significant that it is the network’s first profit of under $1 billion in six years. Initial budgets called for CNN to make $1.1 billion in profits this year, but that did not account for losses from the failed launch of CNN+, a service the network invested millions in that ended up lasting only one month.