Saturday, July 20, 2024

CNN to cut about 100 jobs, launch its first CNN.com subscription product

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CNN said it is cutting about 100 jobs and will launch its first CNN.com subscription product later this year as it looks to lessen its dependence on its cable-TV channel.

CNN said it is cutting about 100 jobs and will launch its first CNN.com subscription product later this year as it looks to lessen its dependence on its cable-TV channel.

In a memo sent to employees Wednesday, CNN Chief Executive Mark Thompson said the network’s television newsgathering and digital-news divisions would be merged into a single unit as the company shifts more of its focus on digital expansion.

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In a memo sent to employees Wednesday, CNN Chief Executive Mark Thompson said the network’s television newsgathering and digital-news divisions would be merged into a single unit as the company shifts more of its focus on digital expansion.

“We recognize its potentially enormous impact on the individuals affected,” Thompson said in an interview. CNN, which has more than 3,500 employees, said the cuts would happen across the company.

Since taking over in October, Thompson has emphasized the importance of improving CNN’s digital offerings as its legacy cable business declines. The parent company, Warner Bros. Discovery, launched CNN Max last year, a live-news streaming service within its Max platform that carries some of the network’s highest-profile content.

Thompson said in Wednesday’s memo that CNN was building a billion-dollar-plus digital business. He declined to provide specifics about the coming digital-subscription product but said it would “be significantly built out of CNN.com.”

Thompson earlier served as CEO of the New York Times, where he oversaw a digital transformation that increased its subscribers from under 600,000 to more than six million.

When asked if CNN would pursue a subscription bundle like the one the Times offers, he said: “It’s a logical possibility.”

The memo said coming digital-subscription products would eventually include news and analysis as well as paid offerings around lifestyle journalism.

During his initial address to staff last fall, Thompson said that conventional TV “can no longer define us,” and that the network is “nowhere near ready for the future.”

CNN’s prime-time viewership has sunk in recent quarters to levels not seen for about a decade. The network got a boost from last month’s presidential debate, which was watched by 9.53 million people on CNN’s platforms. In total, more than 50 million people tuned in to watch the debate, which was simulcast on other networks. CNN’s prime-time viewership reverted back to the network’s decade-low levels the day after the debate.

Other cable-news networks have seen viewership decline since the pandemic, but to a far lesser degree than the drop experienced by CNN.

Separately, Warner Bros. Discovery, is planning a small number of layoffs in the coming weeks within the media conglomerate’s entertainment operations, people close to the situation said. The cuts are part of the company’s continuing efforts to streamline its myriad business operations and reduce redundancies, the people said.

Warner Bros. Discovery, like many of its rivals, has been challenged by cord-cutting, a weak ad market and costly streaming investments.

Write to Isabella Simonetti at isabella.simonetti@wsj.com and Joe Flint at Joe.Flint@wsj.com

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