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Saturday, February 6, 2010

Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes Discusses CNN's Ratings

MarketWatch's Jon Friedman recently interviewed Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes (Time Warner is CNN's parent company). Bewkes was asked about CNN's ratings issues:

Bewkes' strategy hinges on taking the world-class Time Warner brands -- which include People, Real Simple, Time and Sports Illustrated among its magazines; HBO, a thriving movie division and CNN, to name a few -- and making them easily available on every possible distribution system.

Bewkes believes strongly in the "TV everywhere" and "e-reader" programs for TV and magazines, respectively.

Some media bloggers love to dump on CNN. When it started, CNN, which didn't always reek of sophistication, was mocked as the Chicken Noodle Network. In the 1990s, right-wing critics lambasted it as the Clinton News Network.

They point out that the Fox News Channel boasts many more viewers. When I interviewed NBC News chief Steve Capus recently, he was thrilled that MSNBC had made such progress, too. (Fox, like MarketWatch, is owned by News Corp.

Bewkes insisted that CNN "has more viewers" who "watch for shorter periods of time" than its foes. Read more about the ratings.

He was referring to all of the media platforms that CNN can be seen on. Still, CNN's foes would counter that advertisers aren't necessarily measuring the other forums when they buy spots on cable news broadcasts.

I pressed Bewkes on CNN's mission to present both sides of an issue. Yes, it's commendable for journalists to be open-minded, but -- again playing devil's advocate -- wouldn't CNN attract even more viewers if it amped up its broadcasts reports, like Fox and MSNBC often do?

"They're picking a side," Bewkes said of his rivals. "We have bigger ambitions than (leaning) left or right. We want to cover the news completely."

Plus, he suspects, "if we did too much partisan (broadcasting), we'd lose our high demographics." CNN believes it has a higher quality of viewers because it doesn't veer to the left or the right.

Bewkes feel strongly that CNN "is a very good business." He won't tinker with its format "if it means taking a partisan point of view -- one-third of the U.S. voters are independents. They don't want to see narrow-minded stuff."

Bewkes, himself, is clearly a master politician.

... to read the full article: Time Warner's Bewkes: perform or hit the road

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Anonymous said...

Mr. Bewkes, your network is not doing much
news these days outside of Haiti. Are you
even watching?

Translation CNN will always make money no
matter the ratings for CNN. It is a worldwide
brand and as long as it makes money he does
not care. Nobody can match CNN when it comes
to multiple platforms and that is the future.
Television viewing at home will become less
important.Facebook is now the 4th ranked
news destination.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how soon will he shake up the
CNN management. The man said he would
not change the format at CNN not other
things.He needs to find someone with a
vision that can come up with great shows
like he did at HBO only for a cable news
channel. The future is not in fragmented
viewers but those who don't watch a lot
of cable news. That is how you grow your
viewership numbers not doing the same
stuff that has dominated cable news for
some 20 years now.

Anonymous said...

Whenever CNN puposely puts out a press releases on how well they are doing, you know that they are not doing so well.
HBO has not had a REAL hit since the Sopranos left town taking Sex and the City with them and the only reason there are more subscribers is because of the multiple packages, that you have to sign up for. If we were allowed to choose what we actually watched, HBO would not be "making money," for Time Warner enterprises, just like CNN is now rated after the weather channel, unless of course there is a disaster.

Anonymous said...

HBO does have to have the hottest shows
on cable with True Blood and Hung. Jeff
Bewkes will make changes at CNN, you
can bet on it.Bewkes is just not telling a
reporter his plans. There is no way the
man is please with CNN right now.Ted
Turner hired him years ago and he has
been there ever since. He knows the
history of CNN and what needs to be

Anonymous said...

I am betting that Jon Klein will not be
around in 6 months. I wonder who will
be the next president for CNN domestic.
I am not sure if anyone wants the job
after Klein basically ruin the network.
Bringing CNN back is a tall order. It will
take months to fix the mess he will leave

Anonymous said...

I hope Bewkes will buy Current Tv and merge
it with CNN.It will give CNN a fresh look and
access to new talent that is not costly. Conor
Knighton & the Infomania crew along with all
of the Vanguard correspondents. Concentrate
on content as well. The story selection on CNN
is horrible. Let's get some original reporting &
quite relying on the political blogs for stories.
CNN has a huge number of reporters around
the world and affiliates all across America.
There is no reason for CNN to have a shortage
of content for their shows.

Anonymous said...

360 should be live from NOLA all week
long the football team just won the Super
Bowl and they have a new mayor. It will
be a great time to check out how the city
is doing with rebuilding and the Saints
are having a huge parade on Tuesday.

Anonymous said...

Personally, there are more important things to "check out," now. Haiti and the economy are far more important. NOLA, will be just fine....and congratulations on their win.

Anonymous said...

Jeff Bewkes gets credit for being a forward thinking
CEO unlike so many other television executives.
He is working on something called tv everywhere.
That is smart considering people now watch tv
on their laptops and mobile devices.Bewkes does
need to keep an eye on CNN and hire someone to
actually handle program development. It is so
essential in this day and time. Mashable had a
great conference this week on the future journo.
It is about the future of news and the journos
who will be in the world of news/ Let's face
it television and radio and print are considered
as old media. IMHO CNN should get serious and
deliver real time news,offer original reporting
and shows you will only get on tv and all
platforms. That was the take away from the
Mashable seminar; you can no longer focus
and tv because in about 2 years the floodgates
will open.Tv does have one thing in it;s favor
it is a visual media. That is why CNN's ratings
went up during the Haiti quake. It was as
close to real time news as you can get. Less
chatter, more news without the opinion
thrown in just to fill time. Being lazy is not
and option. You can't tell me that is all
the happened in the world all day long
when I saw dozens of stories on the web.
Dude it is about news and info.

Anonymous said...

Dude: We are not all dudes and some of us still get their news from yes....TV, you know those old "geezers" who actually vote on all the issues that effect you and your generation of "dudes."
Oh, and just so you know, we do all this in "real time." Just saying.

Anonymous said...

CNN is in trouble because they are so clueless.
Their coverage of the Saints Super Bowl win is
awful. Am I suppose to believe that only pundits
can talk about the game? This was the lead
story last night on both CBS & NBC and CNN
only does talking heads on the biggest upset
in Super Bowl history. Where were the sports
writers or analysts and the people who have
been waiting who are not on the CNN payroll?
This was the most watched television show
ever. Hello.

Anonymous said...

@8:25PM: You are right. They could easily have made use of HBO's sport anaylsis show with Bryant Gumbull...don't know the correct spelling of his name.
I'm sick of seeing the Matlin woman and Carville. They live there. They are not sports critics. This gets to be tedious seeing them over and over.

Anonymous said...

This was absolutely the wrong week for AC to go to Haiti. Here in the North East corridor we are experiencing blizzard conditions so it is a bit hard to feel sorry for people living in sunshine no matter how poor,especially if you already contributed.
We have our own problems and are about to lose electricity...something the Haitians know about already.