CNN Will No Longer Commission Series and Films From Outside Companies, Citing ‘Ever-Increasing Cost’

By A.J. Katz 

CNN is no longer commissioning original TV series and films from third-party content creators.

In a memo to staff, CNN CEO Chris Licht explained, “this was a very difficult decision to make, and it was based, in large part, on the ever-increasing cost of commissioning third-party premium content. However, I want to be clear that longform content remains an important pillar of our programming.”

CNN has served as home to critically-acclaimed unscripted programming for the past decade, primarily broadcasting the premium, advertiser-friendly programming in weekend primetime. CNN has partnered with outside production companies on Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown, This Is Life with Lisa Ling, United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell, and on newer CNN Original Series like the critically-acclaimed Stanley Tucci Searching for Italy, all of which have all garnered Primetime Emmy Awards. There’s also popular decades’ franchise produced by Tom Hanks‘ Playtone brand (starting with The Sixties), and CNN Films like Blackfish, which the network acquired at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, as well as Navalny (2022) and John Lewis: Good Trouble (2020).


According to Licht, CNN has aired 60 original documentaries, while the CNN Original Series library features roughly 45 titles.

The CNN chief executive also noted that under the leadership of CNN Original Series and Films boss Amy Entelis, the network will look into “how we can approach longform content in house … My goal is to find a model that will enable us to bring our audiences this type of programming with greater flexibility.”

Next year, CNN Original Series and Films are still set to distribute six series and six films.