Feb 2, 2022 - Economy

CNN's next turn

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

CNN president Jeff Zucker resigned today — just months before the oldest 24-hour news network is set to launch its huge bet on streaming.

Why it matters: Zucker had been expected to stay at least until CNN parent WarnerMedia merged with Discovery.

  • He had been a driving force behind CNN+, the network’s renewed push into streaming. 

Catch up quick: After nine years at the helm of CNN, Zucker is out effective immediately after failing to properly disclose a consensual relationship with a longtime senior colleague, Axios’ Sara Fischer reports.

  • The company did not respond to a request for comment.

The big picture: Zucker's departure adds to the huge shifts in the media industry as companies try to find their way in a post-Trump, post-COVID and TikTok-driven world.

State of play: Broadcast and cable networks including CBS, Fox, NBC and MSNBC have all made major leadership, programming and product changes over the past year. 

  • This comes as audience engagement has changed dramatically since the Trump administration and COVID dominated news cycles. 

By the numbers: Cable news ratings have been down 36% across prime-time Fox News, CNN and MSNBC, while news app downloads and social media engagement with news have fallen by 33% and 65%, respectively, Axios recently reported

What they’re saying: “What we’re building at CNN+ is not a side hustle,” CNN chief digital officer Andrew Morse told the New York Times just last week.

What to watch: WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar announced three executives — Michael Bass, head of U.S. programming; Amy Entelis, head of talent and content development; and Ken Jautz, a longtime exec at the company — to co-lead the network in the interim.

Disclosure: Hope King is a former CNN employee.

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