CNN = Canned Not News?
Capital New York’s Alex Weprin writes about increased efforts to add more non-news programming, a lot of it tape, to its lineup…
CNN is planning a substantial investment in new programming, with a heavy emphasis on acquiring unscripted shows by outside producers in the vein of “Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown” and films like “Blackfish.”
The strategy, which is now being touted to analysts and investors, will hamper CNN’s revenue but is meant to shore up its viewership in key demographics and reduce its dependence on coverage of big breaking news stories to attract viewers and advertisers.
As a start, Bourdain may be getting a CNN talk show on top of his Sunday evening “Parts Unknown” program.
For now, the investment in acquired programming bodes well for Zucker, who took over CNN earlier this year. The “multi-year” timeframe for revenue growth mentioned on the call suggests that Zucker will not be going anywhere for quite some time.
But the acquired programming also creates some uncertainty for CNN staff. Bourdain and Spurlock’s programs are not actually produced by CNN, but rather by outside production companies. The more hours of CNN programming that these acquired programs fill, the less need there may be down the line for some in-house staff, a possibility not lost on employees there.
I’ll say. The implications for CNN primetime, where one would assume a lot of this programming will land (but also on weekends ala MSNBC until recently). are profound. If CNN adds more tape to prime, that means less need for staff since the network won’t want its people sitting around twiddling their thumbs while tape runs. The danger is the potential impact of CNN to cover breaking news as well as it used to because it may not have the staff around to do it like it used to.