2023 was another chaotic year for the American television news business.
Broadcast and cable news outlets are still trying to successfully navigate the rapid changes in how Americans consume the news—increasingly moving to streaming services, podcasting and digital-based outlets—to survive and thrive. Nielsen ratings among viewers under 55 continue to decline on an annual basis, and a volatile economy has in many cases hurt ad revenue and forced executives to make difficult decisions on the strategic and personnel fronts.
As far as highlights and lowlights for cable news outlets in 2023, the top-rated cable news brand Fox News Media had to shell out $787.5 million to tech company Dominion to settle a defamation lawsuit this year. The company parted ways with its most popular personality, Tucker Carlson, shortly thereafter. Fox named Lawrence Jones as a permanent co-host on Fox & Friends and also revamped its primetime lineup, moving Laura Ingraham to 7 p.m., Jesse Watters replaced Carlson at 8 p.m., Greg Gutfeld moved up an hour to 10 p.m., while Sean Hannity continues to hold court at 9 p.m. Additionally, Fox News founder Rupert Murdoch stepped down from the day-to-day at his media conglomerate, handing the reins off to his son Lachlan Murdoch.
Changing channels, CNN fired its CEO Chris Licht this summer after just 12+ months on the job, a period which included several on and off-air controversies (including the firing of Don Lemon) and record-low Nielsen ratings. Former BBC and NY Times CEO Mark Thompson replaced Licht in the fall. CNN revamped its daytime lineup, and its primetime lineup, installing Kaitlan Collins as 9 p.m. host on a permanent basis, followed by Abby Phillip and Laura Coates taking over 10 and 11 p.m., respectively, on weekdays. CNN also revamped its Saturday morning lineup, giving shows to Victor Blackwell, Chris Wallace and Christiane Amanpour. Plus, the network said goodbye to CNN Center in downtown Atlanta in 2023, and headed up to Turner’s Midtown campus.
MSNBC also revised its programming lineup. Jen Psaki now owns the 8 p.m. hour on Mondays, Ana Cabrera joined MSNBC and anchors its 10 a.m. hour, with Jose Diaz Balart taking 11 a.m., Chris Jansing holding court from 1-3 p.m., and Katy Tur anchoring 3 p.m. Hallie Jackson transitioned from MSNBC to the NBC News Now streaming service.
Elsewhere in cable news land, upstart network NewsNation built up its afternoon and evening programming in 2023 and hosted its first-ever GOP presidential primary debate, and Newsmax saw Nielsen ratings growth for a fair chunk of the year.
And that’s not even taking into account all of the changes in broadcast news (we’ll save those for another day, perhaps).
Then, there’s the proliferation of disinformation on the internet, a trend which makes producing trustworthy and accurate news for TV all the more difficult, not to mention the general difficulties of covering a complicated war between Israel and the militant group Hamas, which started in October 2023.
We caught up with network presidents and talent earlier this month to reflect on 2023, and understand how their shows and networks may evolve in 2024. Now, we’re asking you to predict what will happen across the industry in 2024.
Welcome to the 2024 TVNewser Challenge!
Voting will close on Friday, Jan. 26 2024. Good luck!