Licht gives hints at his vision for the future of CNN at upfront
By Matt Collins Article may include affiliate links
Newly minted CNN CEO Chris Licht gave some additional hints about the future of the network during the Warner Bros. Discovery upfront presentation.
The presentation comes as the network is still reeling from the embarrassing fall of its CNN+ streaming service that shut down after less than a month of operation after the merger that formed WBD closed and it quickly became apparent the service wouldn’t be hitting its targets and didn’t fit into new leadership’s overall streaming strategy.
In addition to the announcements about Chris Wallace’s CNN+ show getting a new life on HBO Max and selected episodes on CNN, the network also announced an initiative called “CNN Sunday,” that will be centered around a show focused on leveraging CNN’s global journalism team.
CNN also announced “Eva Longoria: Searching for Mexico” has also been picked up by CNN, after it was originally slated to be a CNN+ exclusive. It has also ordered several new documentaries, including ones on the HQ mobile trivia app, the history of Black television, the 2010 decade plus ones focusing on Gabby Giffords and Little Richard.
Perhaps the biggest hint that was dropped, however, was that Licht appears keen to revamp the network’s morning offering, which has been a perpetual thorn in the side of CNN leadership for years.
“New Day,” which has already been through a slew of anchor and format changes since launching under ex-CEO Jeff Zucker in 2013, is still lagging in the ratings despite all the shuffling.
It’s not immediately clear what CNN will do with the morning hours, including whether the names “New Day” or its lead-in “Early Start” will stick around or what the fate of the anchors of those shows will be.
Licht has experience in morning TV, having lead the creation of “Morning Joe” and the second iteration of “CBS This Morning,” the latter of which is now known as “CBS Mornings” and only retains some of Licht’s elements and still remains in third place.
Licht is pushing to debut the new morning offering by the fall of 2022, an ambitious timeline. He also noted that his strategy will not be to try to compete with “Fox & Friends” and “Morning Joe” but rather the “big three” network morning shows “Today,” “Good Morning America” and “CBS Mornings.”
“We will reimagine our morning show leveraging our correspondents and unmatched resources in the U.S. and around the world to provide news that viewers need to know as they start their day,” he said during the presentation.
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