As cost-cutting changes continue, CNN chairman and CEO Chris Licht has announced that the news department will be cutting back on commissioning movies and television series from outside companies.
“I am writing to share that we are making changes to how we approach premium longform content,” Licht wrote Friday morning in a memo to CNN employees obtained by The Hollywood Reporter. “Our long-term plan will no longer depend on commissioned projects with external partners.” Licht explained that the decision was “based in large part on the ever-increasing costs of adopting premium third-party content,” but added that “longform content remains a key pillar of our programming.”
CNN originals include documentaries such as: blackfish (2013), Navalny (2022) and John Lewis: Good problems (2020) and series such as Stanley Tucci: In Search of Italy, Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown and United Shades of America. Since CNN Films started working seriously with external partners after the acquisition blackfish at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, it has worked on more than 60 documentaries, Licht said. Meanwhile, the CNN Original Series library contains approximately 45 titles.
During the production, commissioning, and acquisition of documentaries and nonfiction series, CNN has taken home Emmy awards, earned several Oscar nominations, and eschewed investigative work in titles such as blackfish, The hunting ground (2015) and Navalny.
Light noted that, led by CNN Worldwide’s executive VP for talent and content development Amy Entelis, CNN will explore “how we can approach long-form content internally.” Licht added, “My goal is to find a model that allows us to offer our audiences this type of programming more flexibly.”
In 2023, CNN Original Series and CNN Films will distribute six more series and six films.
On Wednesday, Licht warned in a memo to all employees that changes at the organization would “accelerate” in the coming weeks as the division braces for an economic slowdown and as CNN’s parent company, Warner Bros. Discovery, continues to work on cost savings. Licht noted that layoffs were imminent and that the division hoped to implement most of its major changes before the end of the year.
Warner Bros. Discovery has been aggressively cutting spending since the merger between WarnerMedia and Discovery closed in the spring, with the cost cuts being affected, including the batgirl movie, TBS’ Full frontal with Samantha Bee and two Warner Bros. talent pipeline programs. TelevisionGroup. The company has also laid off employees at Warner Bros. Television Group and HBO Max and has fired a number of European staff, including top executives.
On Wednesday, the company announced in a securities filing that it believes restructuring costs, before tax, will be between $3.2 billion and $4.3 billion.