In an interview with Capital New York, CNN Worldwide head Jeff Zucker said that he plans on refocusing the news network to more non-fiction specials, and less on newscasts. He also says that he wants the network to have more “attitude.” As such, he says, “the goal for the next six months, is that we need more shows and less newscasts.” This is the latest announcement Zucker has made on the state of CNN, previously he said that he drew a big line through CNN’s previous motto of “CNN=Politics.” Zucker’s year at CNN has been marked by ups and downs. This year, CNN has topped MSNBC several times, as the progressive opinion network struggled with breaking news. However, MSNBC has topped CNN as of late, empowered by partisan political battles. There have also been ratings struggles as well, with demo ratings sometimes in the double-digits.
However, a bright spot on CNN is the documentaries and the weekend non-fiction series. Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown is the top show on CNN, and CNN has had demo successes thanks to weekday documentary premieres. It is due to these successes that Zucker says the resistance to his plans have eased.
This year, Zucker has began making his mark on CNN. Under his watch, New Day, Crossfire, The Lead with Jake Tapper, AC360 Later, and Unguarded with Rachel Nichols have been launched. In addition to CNN’s weekend documentary series. The 11 A.M. hour of CNN Newsroom has been rebranded as Legal View with Ashleigh Banfield and Newsroom International was renamed Around the World. However, Zucker has largely left primetime alone. The only difference is that a rerun of Anderson Cooper 360, has been replaced with AC360 Live, a roundtable program. Earlier in the year, Zucker performed his experiments in the ten o’clock hour. Some experiments failed, such as (Get to) The Point, a political roundtable show that went on for a week. Recently, CNN announced two new shows in the late night, The 11th Hour and ICYMI. The two shows air during the 11 P.M. hour, and are half an hour long. The 11th Hour is hosted by Don Lemon, and ICYMI is a CNN-recap show anchored by Brooke Baldwin. The half-hour format could be replicated by CNN, it appears. Politico reported that CNN was looking at a half-hour weekend show for John King, and the format was brought up in the Zucker interview. However, Zucker did say that ““honestly, there is not a piece of paper that has the lineup on it right now.”
This year, CNN’s motto could sum up the changes. Rather than “The Most Trusted Name in News,” James Earl Jones’s “This is CNN” has been airing on the network. It seems to be important to the network that they remind what they’re watching is the new CNN.