CNN boss Mark Thompson says network faces ‘existential crisis’

CNN’s new boss says the network faces an “existential threat” due to cord-cutting and plans to eventually pivot away from cable TV and toward a subscription-based streaming model like YouTube or TikTok. Stated.

“There’s a lot of things that need to be fixed at CNN,” said Mark Mark, a former New York Times and BBC executive hired by Warner Bros. Discovery to help pull CNN back from a slump in third place in the cable news race. Thompson said: told the Financial Times.

CNN’s new chief, Sir Mark Thompson, has said he intends to lead the network’s transition from traditional television to a digital subscription model. Reuters

“There are likely to be significant opportunities to eliminate duplication of parallel organizations, structures and activities,” he said, suggesting further cost-cutting measures will be implemented in the future.

“I think we can and should look for ways to do what we do better and at a lower cost,” Thompson said.

The former BBC chief has the difficult task of rebuilding CNN, which is struggling to maintain ratings alongside Fox News and MSNBC.

Thompson said he is considering distributing CNN content through smartphones and other devices in a move to primarily digital, emulating his tenure as president of The New York Times.

Asked about CNN’s plans, Thompson told the FT: “The idea that there might be a digital subscription is quite possible.”

CNN has struggled in the ratings battle with cable news competitors such as Fox News and MSNBC. AP

Although no final decision has been made, “I think it’s very likely we’ll end up there,” he said.

Thompson did not say what form the digital subscription service would take, but he said it would be similar to CNN’s ill-fated CNN+, a streaming news venture that shut down less than a month after launching. I denied the possibility.

CNN+, the brainchild of former CNN president Jeff Zucker, was discontinued as part of a cost-cutting effort just weeks after the news channel was taken over by the newly merged Warner Bros. Discovery.

Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav has tasked Thompson with cutting costs at the news channel. Getty Images for The New York Times

Mr. Thompson was hired last year to replace Mr. Zucker’s successor, Chris Licht, who was portrayed as shallow and jealous of his predecessor’s popularity in an unflattering profile in a magazine, and has lost his job as network head. His disastrous 13-month term has come to an end.

Warner Bros. Discovery has $44 billion in debt that needs to be reduced, leading to speculation that CEO David Zaslav is considering selling CNN. .

Thompson pushed back on the idea of ​​abandoning television altogether.

“Do you want to strengthen your cable TV schedule to be more competitive? Yes, we do,” he said.

“But the rate at which people cut the cord and watch no cable TV at all has been, and will probably continue to be, much larger than the more significant competition between individual cable channels. It’s a strategic threat.”

Thompson’s predecessor, Chris Licht, was fired last year after a disastrous 13-month stint at the helm of CNN. Getty Images

During his eight years as president and CEO of The New York Times, Mr. Thompson helped drive the company’s transition to a digital subscription-based news organization, which has since become its primary driver of revenue. There is.

Thompson, who left The New York Times in 2020, is credited with helping the Times reach millions of digital subscribers around the world.

The only bright spot for CNN is its website, which attracts about 160 million unique visitors each month.

One possibility, Thompson said, is to have CNN users sign up so the network can sell information about its viewers to advertisers.

“We need a completely new digital strategy,” he told the FT.

“I don’t think any broadcaster has cracked the secret to being authentic when it comes to digital products.”

The Post has reached out to CNN for comment.