CNN's annual profits haven't sunk below $1 billion since 2016, the year Donald Trump beat Hilary Clinton in the presidential election and subsequently became a prominent figure in their commentary. "Ratings are down from their Trump-era heights across cable news, but declines at CNN are particularly pronounced," the Times noted.
CNN viewership is about 639,000 in the prime time hours slot, which is down 27 percent from last year. More people on average watch MSNBC, whose viewership is down 23 percent, and Fox wins over both networks and is up about a percentage point in overall viewers.
Fox's ascension in rating while MSNBC and CNN decline is the continuation of a stark pattern reported in 2021 which saw Fox News on top averaging 1.3 million in total day viewers, compared to 919,000 at MSNBC and 787,000 watching CNN.
CNN's entropic ratings is a continuing trend. "It's becoming increasingly apparent that the vast majority of Americans are rejecting fake news," The Post Millennial, reported in June as CNN recorded their worst weekend ratings since 1993.
"The network is trying to defray costs associated with CNN+," the Times reports. The CNN+ streaming service terminated after just 21 days in operation. CNN executives had originally hoped to bring in around 2 million subscribers in the US, but after the services' launch fewer than 10,000 people were using CNN+ on a daily basis.
To recoup losses generated by CNN, parent company Warner Bros. Discovery is looking to sell programming created for some of its other services, such as HBO Max. They're also broadly cracking down on expenses such as spending money on work celebrations.
CNN brought on Chris Marlin, a lawyer with no cable news experience, who suggested "striking advertising deals with major tech companies like Microsoft," "selling sponsorships to corporate underwriters," and "extending CNN’s brand in China."
In February, former Stephen Colbert producer Chris Licht was tapped to be CNN's new president after disgraced former boss Jeff Zucker was forced to resign.
By June, reports emerged that Licht wanted to prune partisan personalities and programming at the network so the company could make "programming decisions that are focused on nuance, not noise." Examples included urging staff to avoid using the Democrat slogan "the big lie" when discussing Trump's 2020 election claims and a report on June 15 that Brian Stelter was down to his "final week" of employment at the company.
According to The New York Times, Licht told his employees not to worry about ratings because he thinks they'll reach their audience through "editorial guidance" not "business strategy."