CNN’s Need for a New CEO and a Comprehensive Business Strategy


CNN, a leading news network, is currently in search of a new CEO following the departure of Chris Licht. Licht’s tenure was marked by a series of missteps, and his lack of a clear business vision for the network became evident when he made the decision to shut down CNN+ shortly after its launch. This article examines the importance of a strong business strategy for CNN and the implications of not having one.

When CNN+ was discontinued just a few weeks after its introduction, it left Licht without a coherent digital strategy or a platform for growth. The skepticism from Discovery executives about investing in niche content ideas like “Jake Tapper’s Book Club” and “Parental Guidance with Anderson Cooper” contributed to the demise of CNN+. However, had Licht successfully convinced the executives to keep CNN+, his tenure at CNN might have taken a different trajectory.

Licht, with his background in show producing, could have utilized CNN+ as a platform to create new shows and develop a compelling growth story for press and investors. It would have provided a distraction from declining linear TV ratings and allowed Licht to focus on building the company’s future. Unfortunately, without CNN+, Licht struggled to formulate a clear digital strategy and make significant programming decisions.

During his time as CEO, Licht restructured CNN by laying off hundreds of employees and shuffling anchors and reporters to create new shows. However, his attempts to revamp the programming lineup, such as moving Don Lemon to the morning and Jake Tapper to primetime, faced challenges and ultimately failed to generate desired results. Licht’s lack of a future strategy mirrored the limited vision of David Zaslav, the CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery, which owns CNN.

To thrive in today’s media landscape, CNN needs a CEO with a comprehensive business strategy. This strategy should focus on boosting ratings through compelling programming while also fostering new digital ventures to attract revenue and younger audiences. Merely changing the tone of programming around former President Donald Trump, the potential frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, is not enough to form a strong business strategy.

The absence of CNN+ and the network’s declining profits highlight the urgency for CNN to adapt and innovate. Without a robust business strategy, CNN risks falling further behind its competitors. The new CEO must envision a long-term plan that emphasizes both immediate improvements and sustainable growth. Waiting for the 2024 election cycle alone cannot provide a solution for CNN’s future beyond that point.

In conclusion, CNN’s quest for a new CEO presents an opportunity for the network to redefine its business strategy. The next leader must possess a holistic vision, encompassing programming, digital expansion, revenue generation, and audience engagement. By formulating and implementing a comprehensive strategy, CNN can position itself for success in the ever-evolving media landscape.