NYT: CNN profits projected to fall sharply in 2022 amid ratings slump

The CNN logo is displayed at the entrance to the CNN Center in Atlanta on May 4, 2013. (Dreamstime/TNS)

Credit: TNS

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The CNN logo is displayed at the entrance to the CNN Center in Atlanta on May 4, 2013. (Dreamstime/TNS)

Credit: TNS

This would be the network’s worst year since 2016

CNN, riding the wave of Donald Trump outrage, generated record profits the past few years.

But in a year packed with turmoil, slumping ratings and new management, CNN is projected to see its lowest profits since 2016, according to a New York Times story Tuesday.

The company dumped its old longtime boss Jeff Zucker earlier this year over a lack of transparency regarding an in-office relationship, fired former prime-time star Chris Cuomo over issues regarding how much he helped his brother and former governor Andrew Cuomo over sexual harassment charges and dropped its new streaming service CNN+ as soon as new owners at Discovery took over in the spring.

TV executive Chris Licht replaced Zucker and vowed to make the news station more centrist after a shift to more opinion during the Trump presidency. Licht also reduced heavy usage of the word “breaking news,” a strategy Zucker embraced to keep eyeballs on the network.

S&P Global Market Intelligence estimates CNN’s profitability will drop to $956.8 million this year, the first time since 2016 that its profits dipped below $1 billion, according to unnamed sources to The New York Times. The costs of prematurely ending CNN+ contributed to the projected fall in profits.

Relatively speaking, those profits are still huge, but three months into Litch’s tenure as CNN president, the New York Times story notes, “the network finds itself facing big questions about how it can continue to expand its business with its moonshot streaming service dead and the traditional TV business in structural decline.”

The Times story notes CNN’s prime-time ratings are down 27% year over year while MSNBC’s numbers have fallen 23%. Fox News is up 1%. CNN is a distant third both in day-time and prime-time hours among the big three cable news networks.

While CNN is now headquartered in New York, it still has an ample employee base in Atlanta. CNN’s international and digital operations are located at CNN Center. Warner Bros. Discovery doesn’t break down revenues publicly so it’s unclear how much money those particular operations generate compared to the primary cable network, which brings in money from cable subscribers and advertisers.