CNN president Jeff Zucker continued to attempt to redefine CNN and its future mission when he told industry insiders gathered at the RealScreen Summit today that “If we rely just on breaking news, that’s probably not a long-term game.”
Zucker also said that while CNN “was never going to stray from breaking news,” he realized that there are many ways for people to get their news today, and they need to broaden their offerings to the public.
That broadening includes adding more unscripted programs and documentaries, though Zucker made it clear that the network wasn’t looking to replicate the “Housewives” franchise that was so successful for him at NBC.
Even though Zucker doesn’t see breaking news as a long term strategy for CNN, he reiterated his “commitment to news,” and said that the network “provides more news coverage on a daily basis than any other TV network in America.”
That may be the case, but the problem is that too few people are watching CNN, which continues to stumble in the ratings.
Zucker also took a swipe at his cable news rivals when he said that CNN has become even more essential to viewers in recent years, because Fox News and MSNBC are “highly partisan” and “politically motivated.”
There is little doubt where Fox News and MSNBC stand on the political spectrum, but they are giving their audiences what they want, and are succeeding—Fox more so than MSNBC—while CNN has taken what I call the “muddled middle” approach, and failed.
In reality, Zucker is searching for a formula that works. His daytime programming overhaul has been a bust, and his lack of action with the primetime lineup has been disastrous for the network, as it cedes more ground to Fox and MSNBC every day.
Fox News has proved you can make significant money if you put out a product people want to watch, which is exactly the opposite of what CNN has been doing for years.