Report: WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar Holds Meetings with CNN Anchors to Discuss Work, Possible CNN-Branded OTT Service

By A.J. Katz 

The New York Times’ John Koblin and Michael Grynbaum published a rather lengthy piece earlier today on what CNN and MSNBC may look like in a post-Trump world.

Included in their story was news that the Los Angeles-based CEO of WarnerMedia Jason Kilar stopped by CNN’s New York HQ and Washington D.C. bureau earlier this month to hold one-on-one sessions with prominent CNN anchors, “many of whom he was meeting for the first time, according to five people with knowledge of the visits.”

The Times adds that Kilar sought the meetings to introduce himself and talk up his enthusiasm for their work as well as his latest project, a CNN-branded streaming service.


Kilar’s visits come as WarnerMedia News and Sports chairman Jeff Zucker, whose contract at the company extends through next year, remains unsure of his future at the company.

CNN is set to complete its most-watched ever in the network’s 40-year history, and November 2020 was the network’s highest-rated month ever.

Zucker could conceivably go out on top after the inauguration, when both the news cycle and viewership will slow down, or he could stick around for the next administration.

Apparently some at CNN view Kilar, who was founder and CEO of Hulu before joining WarnerMedia earlier this year, with skepticism. The fact that he reportedly sent a note congratulating the network on its election coverage, only to include several factual errors in his opening two sentences didn’t help matters.

The memo incorrectly stated that CNN had “led the way” by calling Arizona for Mr. Biden (in fact, Fox News and The Associated Press had called the Arizona race days earlier) and erroneously said that Arizona was the final state CNN had projected (that distinction belonged to Georgia and North Carolina).

According to the story, since that memo went out, Kilar and Zucker met for a private, socially distanced lunch close to CNN’s Hudson Yards headquarters in New York, and Kilar praised Zucker during an interview on Kara Swisher‘s New York Times podcast late last week.

“I think the two best things that ever happened to CNN were Ted Turner and Jeff Zucker … And here we are 40 years after the launch of CNN, we all know that the pay TV ecosystem in the US is declining. It is down kind of 7%, 8% depending on who you talk to. And in the last 12 months and the year before, it was down a little bit as well. So think of that environment getting smaller. CNN, despite that, had its biggest audience in November in its 40-year history. It’s almost mathematically impossible to describe that as being the case. But it is the case. And I give Jeff and his amazing team all the credit in the world for that.”