David Zaslav Praises Chris Licht Despite Declining Primetime Ratings: ‘I Think Chris Is Doing a Great Job Pivoting CNN’

By A.J. Katz 

The annual Allen & Co. conference featuring top media and tech executives is taking place this week in Sun Valley—and Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav fielded questions from the assembled press Tuesday before the start of the festivities. One reporter asked Zaslav a question about CNN, one of the company’s most high-profile brands, specifically about the Nielsen ratings trends since former Late Show executive producer Chris Licht was tapped to run the network this past spring. CNN has been struggling mightily in weekday prime, especially at 9 p.m. Perhaps that trend will change once the network names a permanent 9 p.m. host later this year. Or maybe it won’t. But CNN’s low ratings are undoubtedly on the minds of media reporters and observers.

That said, it’s still very early days for the Licht (and Zaslav) regime—and the Warner Bros. Discovery boss still feels his choice for CNN CEO is the right person for the job. Ratings don’t seem top of mind right now for Zaslav, editorial direction is.

“I think Chris is doing a great job pivoting CNN,” he said, per Variety. “Journalism first. America needs a news network where everybody can come and be heard; Republicans, Democrats. I think you’re seeing more of that at CNN. I think it’s the greatest news brand in the world with the greatest journalists. And we’re going to lean into that. We’re not going to look at the ratings and—in the long run—it’s going to be worth more.”