A news channel cannot subsist on news alone: Radical changes coming to CNN
CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker promises more of an 'attitude and a take'
After a great deal of thought, CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker has decided that his news channel definitely needs to shake it up. To this end, he is planning broader changes for the network. Some of the changes will not sit well for those who have made CNN their go-to station for news.
Jeff Zucker says he wants the network to attract "viewers who are watching places like Discovery and History and [National Geographic] and A&E.
"We're all regurgitating the same information. I want people to say, 'You know what? That was interesting. I hadn't thought of that,'" Zucker said. "The goal for the next six months, is that we need more shows and less newscasts."
Zucker says he wants the network to attract "viewers who are watching places like Discovery and History and [National Geographic] and A&E.
"People who traditionally just watch the cable news networks [are] a great audience," he said. "I'm not trying to alienate that audience. But the overall cable news audience has not grown in the last 12 years, OK? So, all we're doing is trading [audience] share. . We also want to broaden what people can expect from CNN."
Backing up his claims, he points out that the top-rated show on CNN is now "Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown," a travel-adventure show featuring the celebrity chef. He says his formula has finally been accepted "because people have seen the results."
From here on out, more series and films not news related will be ran in prime-time: "Yes, there will be more and, yes, they will not just be on Sundays.," he said. "I think it will expand past just the weekends, and so there's a little piece of news for you . This is a prime-time play. It's too expensive to confine it to weekends."
Changes coming to CNN staples, such as HLN, the former Headline News will be "rethought, re-imagined, and re-branded."
Is this tinkering with something that works? Zucker says that HLN "really just had a great year from an audience standpoint," he said, but: "it's not as strong a business proposition, and it's not really what advertisers are looking for. If we wanted to be in the court business, Time Warner would have kept Court TV."
Veteran TV executive Albie Hecht is set to lead the changes at HLN. "His mandate is to figure out the white space for yet another cable news network in a world where headlines are ubiquitous on whatever mobile device you choose to use," Zucker says.
He's confident that the changes will bring about desirable results. "In five years," Zucker continued, "mobile video consumption with three little red letters called CNN is what the future looks like. I think that there are three incredible brands in the news and information space. I think ESPN owns sports, I think the Weather Channel owns weather, and I want CNN to own news and information in the global digital video space."
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