CNN Digital’s Rise, and a Fox News Future for Jeff Zucker?

By Mark Joyella 

By one critical measure—Nielsen ratings—Fox News is the undisputed heavyweight of cable news. But in terms of digital dominance, CNN has the edge—as the network proudly boasted in a news release Wednesday.

“Last month, CNN outpaced all news and information competitors with more multiplatform unique visitors, mobile unique visitors, multiplatform views, video starts and consumption time than any other news outlet,” the network’s release said. “In many cases, CNN totals were higher than several competitors combined.”

CNN even engaged in some Twitter trash talk with BuzzFeed:

A look at that list shows Fox News trailing most of its media competitors in terms of reaching millennial news consumers, and that may factor into what Fox News looks like in the post-Ailes era.

Writing at The Hollywood Reporter, Michael Wolff argues that James Murdoch in particular believes CNN is a model for the Fox News of the future. “CNN’s digital business … has far outstripped Fox’s relatively slow-moving digital efforts under Ailes and is vastly better positioned for the news-platform battles to come,” Wolff writes, making CNN boss Jeff Zucker a tempting target:

Hence, why not hire Zucker, who has guided CNN’s digital strategy and driven the network to its strongest competitive point against Fox in years? According to insiders, Zucker makes far less in salary at CNN than the $20 million that Ailes reportedly made at Fox News and, irksomely, he doesn’t have the access to the Time Warner company plane that other top execs enjoy. Fox, with profits as much as three times greater than CNN’s, could presumably offer him a much richer deal.