CNN’s Schedule Shakeup: New CEO Licht’s Attempt To Try And Catch Fox, MSNBC


As CNN trails competitors Fox News and MSNBC in ratings and faces decreasing profit projections, new president Chris Licht is switching up the network’s schedule and advertising revenue streams to compete—here’s a look at how CNN stacks up.

Key Facts

CNN announced Thursday its schedule leading up to the Midterm elections, moving Jake Tapper into primetime at 9 p.m.; Alisyn Camerota and Laura Coates taking over from 10 p.m. to midnight on CNN Tonight; and Don Lemmon hosting the 10 p.m. slot until October 7, and then moving to morning programming, with Licht saying “we will advance and expand on that coverage, creating something complimentary and compelling in primetime.”

In August, Fox News had nine of the top 10 cable news shows across all broadcast times; the most popular cable news show was Fox’s The Five, which airs weekdays at 5 p.m. and received an average of 3.39 million average viewers.

MSNBC had the No. 5 most-watched cable news program across all broadcast times, Rachel Maddow Tonight, with 2.27 million average viewers.

The most-watched CNN show, Anderson Cooper 360, was the No. 25 most-watched cable news program across all broadcast times, with 950,000 average viewers.

During primetime in August, Fox averaged 2.34 million viewers, MSNBC averaged 1.29 million viewers, and CNN averaged 733,000 viewers.

S&P Global Market Intelligence projected CNN’s 2022 profits will be $956.8 million, the first time since 2016 it’s dipped under $1 billion, the New York Times reported last month.

Big Number

$628.3 million. That was CNN’s projected net advertising revenue in 2020, compared to Fox’s $1.19 billion and MSNBC’s 676.8 million, according to Pew Research Center.

Top 10 Cable News Primetime Shows

In August 2022, according to Nielsen.

  1. Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight (8 p.m.), 3.31 million average viewers
  2. Fox News, Hannity (9 p.m.), 2.91 million average viewers
  3. MSNBC, The Rachel Maddow Show (9 p.m.), 2.72 million average viewers
  4. Fox News, The Ingraham Angle (10 p.m.), 2.48 million average viewers
  5. MSNBC, Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell (10 p.m.), 1.68 million average viewers
  6. MSNBC, MSNBC Prime, (9 p.m.), 1.56 million average viewers
  7. MSNBC, Alex Wagner Tonight (9 p.m.), 1.55 million average viewers
  8. MSNBC, All In With Chris Hayes (8 p.m.) 1.44 million average viewers
  9. CNN, Anderson Cooper 360 (8 p.m.), 950,000 average viewers
  10. CNN, CNN Tonight, (9 p.m.) 726,000 average viewers

Key Background

Last year was the second most-watched year in CNN’s history. However, all three major cable news networks experienced a ratings plummet in 2021 compared to 2020, after ratings skyrocketed during the Trump administration in what’s been dubbed the Trump Bump. CNN reached a 40-year viewership high in November 2020. Earlier this year, CNN’s parent company Warner Media merged with Discovery to become Warner Bros. Discovery. Weeks after the merger was completed, CNN’s newly launched streaming service CNN+ was shut down. Licht, who took over as CNN’s president in May, has made several high-profile changes to the cable news network since. Brian Stelter, who hosted the long-running media segment Reliable Sources, announced in August that his show was canceled and that he was leaving CNN. Chris Wallace, who left Fox earlier this year for CNN, announced this week a talk show that will air on both CNN and HBO Max, after his headlining CNN+ show was canned with the streaming service earlier this year. Chef Alison Roman, whose CNN+ cooking show also fell through, will debut on the CNN airways this fall. Licht told employees at his first town hall to not pay attention to ratings, and has brought on executive Chris Marlin to bring new revenue streams to the company, like a new advertising deal with Microsoft, according to the Times.

Further Reading

CNN In 2021: Goodbye To The Trump Bump, Plus A Top Anchor Fired, Ratings Highlights, And More (Forbes)

A CNN Insider Sets The Record Straight On The New Chris Licht Era At The Network (Forbes)

Chris Wallace Leaves Fox News After 18 Years—And Joins CNN+ (Forbes)

CNN+ Will Shut Down After Only One Month Of Service (Forbes)

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