Monday, April 14, 2014

CNN: Will Programming Shift Pay Off?

With CNN announcing a few days ago that they will be rolling out a new primetime lineup, some question how this latest strategic move will play out for the news network in the coming months.

With “the new strategy represent[ing] a shift away from the talk show format that CNN has featured at 9 p.m. for thirty years “ and further “build[ing] on the network’s strategy of offering both live, breaking news programming as well as quality, original series, CNN Films and in-house documentaries” (Levin 1), program hosts/” the finest storytellers in the business” will include fan favorites Mike Rowe, John Walsh, Lisa Ling in addition to the renewed shows of Anthony Bourdain and Morgan Spurlock.

Having always been a contender to win individual viewer loyalty and interests, CNN’s relative position within the industry is fairly strong, especially with their 24-hour news coverage. However, this relative position is not an item to take lightly. With their competitive position constantly in flux based on viewer criticism be it through their news broadcasting abilities or the content of their current and upcoming shows, bottom-line is that CNN is creating a bit of variation to the generic and possibly comfortable “rut” that they have found themselves in.

Jeff Zucker stated, “We believe that genre [(the classic talk show format)]is no longer viable,” further commenting that there are “’too many outlets’ and ‘not enough unique guests’" (Stelter 1).

With the hopes of attracting bigger audiences, the multiple shows that will be rolled out in essence are different avenues of differentiation the news network can utilize. CNN must be carefull, for on the flip-side while these may be potential cash cows for ratings, at the same time this may be a barrier to entry and sustainability taking into account the current landscape of programming currently offered by competitors.

Having “struggled to attract a big audience during relatively quiet news periods…when there isn't a giant story to cover, the channel may achieve more consistent ratings with pre-taped series and films” (Stelter 1). For CNN, let’s hope this latest strategic shift will prove successful and not seen as a move that will alienate current viewers.


Levin, Barbara. "CNN Announces New Primetime Schedule." CNN Press Room RSS. CNN, 10 Apr. 2014. Web. 12 Apr. 2014.

Stelter, Brian. "CNN Announces New Prime Time Lineup." CNNMoney. Cable News Network, 10 Apr. 2014. Web. 12 Apr. 2014.

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