One of the biggest questions in media heading into this year was: Will Jeff Zucker leave his role leading CNN and Turner Sports after his current contract ran out at the end of 2021, or will he re-up with the company?
We thought the answer to that question had been answered, with Zucker telling staff back in February, “I am going to stay and finish my current contract–which, as I said, will keep me here until the end of this year. At that point, I do expect to move on.”
According to Puck’s Dylan Byers, that may no longer be the case. Zucker might not “move on” just yet. Byers writes that according to three of his network sources, Zucker plans to stay on at WarnerMedia at least through the Discovery merger, which will likely close in the second quarter of 2022. “Whether Zucker stays beyond then—in his current role as chairman of news and sports, or in an elevated role—is yet to be determined,” Byers adds. “Amid internal talk of a big promotion at Warner Bros. Discovery, he has told at least one friend that he would be happier staying in his current position with a focus on building out the new company’s global news and sports businesses.”
This means that Zucker will remain in charge of CNN Worldwide and the highly-anticipated launch of CNN+, the network’s forthcoming streaming news service that Zucker’s digital czar, Andrew Morse, boldly deemed “the most important launch for CNN since Ted Turner launched the network in June of 1980.” CNN+ is poised to launch at some point in the opening quarter of 2022, and it will feature 8 to 12 hours of live programming spanning genres.
CNN+ joins a jam-packed streaming news landscape. A week before the official CNN+ launch announcement was made (July 2021), NBCU’s Peacock announced the rebranding of progressive streaming news channel The Choice as The Choice From MSNBC, with the re-branded service launching multiple new shows on the channel hosted by MSNBC talent. Fox News has Fox Nation, a subscription-based service which focuses on entertainment and conservative opinion programming. It also has the Fox International streaming service for fans of the network living abroad, and Fox Weather launching in Q3 of this year.
CBS News was the first major news outlet to launch a standalone streaming service with CBSN coming into the picture in 2014. That ad-supported service airs a live news program in the morning, runs taped stories for much of the day, before returning in the evening with live news. The same is true over at ABC with ABC News Live, while NBC News has the streaming news channel NBC News Now and Today show-focused streaming content on Peacock’s Today All Day.