Looks like wall-to-wall crippled cruise ship coverage wasn’t enough to get CNN off rough ratings seas. One full month since Jeff Zucker officially took over the cable news network, CNN saw a 5% dip in total day viewers and a 1% slip in primetime viewership in February as compared to January. Fox News Channel won February among cable news networks in terms of total day and primetime viewership with MSNBC coming in second and CNN in third. Last year, CNN was in second place after Fox. Also, despite the sharp bump the network got from its widely mocked expansive February 14 coverage of the Carnival Triumph’s tug to port, CNN saw a 4% slip this month in the Adults 25-54 demographic in both total day and primetime compared to January. Former NBC Universal exec Zucker formally stepped into his job as president CNN Worldwide on January 20 as the network was deep in political reporting and soon topped its rivals in Inauguration coverage. If those month-to-month figures are down, the year-to-year are down more. CNN fell 10% in total day viewership and 18% in primetime viewership from last February to an average audience of 424,000 during the day and 659,000 between 8 PM and 11 PM. The network was also down in the 25-54 demo from last year, falling 20% in total day and 32% in primetime.
UPDATE, 9:12 AM: That was fast. ABC News president Ben Sherwood announced that David Muir will take over for Chris Cuomo, who is making the jump to CNN. Muir, who anchors World News on the weekend and subs for Diane Sawyer during the week, will join 20/20 co-anchor Elizabeth Vargas on ABC’s Friday night newsmagazine. “For the last two years David has appeared on air more often than any correspondent at any news division, reporting from Tahrir Square to Fukushima to Tucson to Aurora”, Sherwood wrote today in an email to staff that also confirmed Cuomo’s exit.
PREVIOUS, 8:18 AM: As Deadline reported last night, 20/20 anchor Chris Cuomo has made the jump to cable. CNN’s Jeff Zucker formally announced today that Cuomo has joined the news network and will host a yet-untitled morning show. The move comes just more than a month since former ABC White House correspondent Jake Tapper joined CNN. Here’s today’s release:
The EVP and managing editor who oversees the editorial tone and direction at CNN is exiting, making way for new CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker to handle those duties. Mark Whitaker‘s position will not be filled. “…With Jeff Zucker’s arrival, we have a new leader with his own forceful ideas about where to take CNN’s reporting, programming and brand”, Whitaker wrote in a memo obtained by TV Newser. “For him to succeed, I believe he deserves his own team and management structure and the freedom to communicate one clear vision to the staff.”
Whitaker came aboard two years ago from MSNBC and spearheaded several moves at the cable news network, which suffered a ratings slump during most of 2012. He spearheaded such moves as bringing back Soledad O’Brien to a revamped morning show; adding names like Anthony Bourdain and Morgan Spurlock to the network (their shows are scheduled to premiere later this year); and starting a documentary label CNN Films. His departure is the latest in what will be several moves at CNN with Zucker taking over; the new boss just plucked Rachel Nichols from ESPN to host a sports show and is in deep negotiations with 20/20 co-anchor Chris Cuomo to join the morning show. Here’s Whitaker’s full memo to staff:
One week into Jeff Zucker’s reign at CNN, the news network is closing in on bringing another ABC face onboard. 20/20 co-anchor Chris Cuomo is in deep negotiations with to become one of the hosts of a new morning show for the network, sources tell Deadline. “They’re making a play for Cuomo in a fairly significant way and ABC has to figure out fast if they can match or better CNN’s offer,” says a cable news insider. Cuomo’s contract with ABC is reportedly up for renewal and he’s eager to make the jump to cable if the offer is right, the source says. Cuomo was Good Morning America’s news anchor from 2006-2009 before he moved to his current gig on ABC’s newsmagazine show.
Departing CNN Worldwide boss Jim Walton sent around a thank-you memo to staff today on his last day at the cable news network, where he has spent the past 31 years. He announced in July that he was stepping down amid sagging ratings and an increasingly challenging ratings fight with rivals Fox News and MSNBC. Of his replacement Jeff Zucker, Walton says in the heartfelt memo: “Jeff Zucker is a great leader for CNN’s next chapter. You are lucky to get him. But not as lucky as he is to be getting you.” Here it is:
December 21, 2012
From: Jim Walton
Today is my last day at CNN. Thirty-one years is a big chunk of my life—let’s be charitable and call it well more than half. I’ve been president of this organization for nearly one-third of its existence. I’m proud of that and of what CNN has become, what it stands for and what we’ve accomplished together.
Incoming president of CNN Worldwide Jeff Zucker has sent a memo to the staff, saying he sees “endless potential” for the network. Here’s the full memo, via a CNN staffer, first posted on Politico.
Jeff Zucker could not have asked for better timing — on the morning his appointment as president of CNN Worldwide was announced, the latest ratings for his syndicated show Katie showed the talker hitting all-time highs. For the week of November 12, Katie Couric‘s daytime talk show drew a 2.1 household rating and 2.7 million viewers, its best weekly numbers ever and up 17% week-to-week in both categories. In women 25-54 (1.1 rating), Katie tied its best-ever weekly rating. Zucker and Couric co-own the show, on which Zucker has served as executive producer/showrunner. “I’m very excited that Jeff has such a wonderful opportunity at CNN and equally excited for CNN,” Couric said today. “I’m also grateful that Jeff has been so instrumental in getting our show off to such a strong start and look forward to working with the fantastic staff we’ve assembled and building on the strong foundation we’ve created.”
That staff includes Zucker’s lieutenants on the show: co-executive producers Michael Bass and Kathy Samuels. In anticipation of Zucker’s exit, Zucker, Couric and the company behind Katie, Disney-ABC Domestic Television, have been quietly meeting with potential candidates to succeed Zucker at the helm of the show. Now that Zucker’s departure is certain, the search is expected to pick up steam and the expectation is to have someone in place by the end of the year, providing a smooth transition as Zucker is slated to leave the show in early January.
UPDATED: The soon-to-be new chief of CNN says that the cable news pioneer can’t “allow our competition to be defined just by the partisan political networks… Our competition is not just Fox News and MSNBC.” But …
It’s done: Jeff Zucker has been named president of CNN Worldwide. Turner Broadcasting System chairman and CEO Phil Kent made the announcement this morning. “Jeff’s experience as a news executive is unmatched for its breadth and success,” Kent said. “As a programmer, a brand-builder and a leader, he will bring energy and new thinking to CNN. I couldn’t be happier to welcome him or more excited about what he’ll accomplish here.” Long the leading contender to take over Jim Walton’s job at the ratings-challenged news network, Zucker joining CNN seemed a sure thing earlier this week. The former NBCUniversal CEO will take over in January.
Here’s the full announcement from CNN:
Jeff Zucker will join CNN Worldwide as president of the multi-platform global news enterprise, it was announced today by Phil Kent, chairman and CEO of CNN parent company Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. In January 2013, Zucker will assume executive oversight of a portfolio of 23 branded news and information businesses that includes CNN/U.S., CNN International, CNN.com and HLN and reaches more than 2 billion people in some 200 countries around the world. Zucker will report to Kent and will be based at CNN in New York.
I hear Disney-ABC has launched a search for top-level producer(s) to take the reins of Katie Couric‘s syndicated daytime talk show. The contingency plan is being put in place as speculation intensifies that Katie executive producer Jeff Zucker would be leaving the freshman talker. I hear talks with potential candidates are under way, and a hire is expected within the next couple of weeks. Zucker has a major financial interest in Katie (some sources indicate he is poised to pocket $8 million from the $20 million guarantee to Couric and him), and is not likely to leave without a succession plan in place. But, having run one of the biggest media companies in the world, NBC Universal, he has been expected to jump back to the executive ranks. He currently has two lieutenants on the show: co-executive producers Michael Bass and Kathy Samuels.
There has been chatter about Zucker being courted for several top jobs, including CEO of Tribune, but attention has focused recently on the vacancy at CNN. With his strong news background, Zucker is considered a leading candidate to succeed CNN Worldwide president Jim Walton when he departs at the end of the year. Such timing would work for providing a smooth transition on Katie, which has a two-year deal with the ABC stations. (There are several other names bandied about for the CNN job including MSNBC head Phil Griffin and usual suspects David Westin, Andrew Heyward and Neal Shapiro).
Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.
Katie Couric breezed through ABC’s morning presentation at TCA to hype her forthcoming syndicated daily daytime talk show Katie, disclosing that she already has invited famed former interview subject Sarah Palin to come on but has yet to hear back. Couric also has invited President Obama and Michelle Obama as well as Mitt and Ann Romney to the show, which premieres September 10.
Couric also detailed what she expects the show to be (she disclosed that Sheryl Crow wrote and performs the theme song) and that producer Jeff Zucker — long her boss during her years at the Today show — will be constantly in her ear during production. ”I’m really excited to be able to work with Jeff,” Couric said. “We had some great years on the Today show and have very similar sensibilities. We can finish each other’s sentences. And I know he’s got my back. I trust him implicitly. It givers me a great sense of security to have him here, to have someone in your ear whom you really trust.”
Related: TV Teaser: Katie Couric’s ‘Katie’
EXCLUSIVE: Another key member of the Katie Couric-Jeff Zucker team from the golden era of Today is joining them on Couric’s upcoming syndicated talk show. No, it’s not Matt Lauer, who recently re-upped his deal at the NBC morning …