Warner Brothers Discovery’s (NASDAQ:WBD) news outlet, CNN, has appointed Mark Thompson as the new CEO, a Wall Street Journal report said. Thompson has previously served as president and CEO at the New York Times (NYSE:NYT) and the BBC. CNN was hunting for an apt chief to lead the news publications during challenging times and revive its lost glory.
The tough competition in the news media space and the cord-cutting of the traditional TV business have taken a toll on media channels. CNN has seen a sharp decline in its ratings in the past couple of years and has also witnessed two abrupt CEO departures. Thompson is being roped in to bring much-needed stability to CNN’s ratings and viewership.
Moreover, he will be tasked with finding a balance between CNN’s traditional cable business and the rising popularity of digital channels. In his prior tenure, Thompson was instrumental in revitalizing the NYT’s business offerings, such as online subscription-based models, podcasts, and more.
News Channels Face Tough Road Ahead
The timing of the leadership change is important for CNN. 2024 is the presidential election year. News channels generally garner heavy viewership during election years, and their ratings are widely impacted during this period. If Thompson is able to monetize the crucial period well, CNN could rise back to its leadership position among news publications.
Further, as the new CEO, Thompson would be responsible for bringing stable leadership to CNN’s newsroom, which was chaotic under former CEO Chris Licht‘s tenure. Under Licht, CNN saw several programming changes in prime time and morning slots. Also, its ratings fell far behind rivals Fox News (NASDAQ:FOXA) and MSNBC.
Is WBD a Good Buy Right Now, as per Analysts?
Wall Street remains cautiously optimistic about Warner Brothers Discovery. The mass media company is undertaking aggressive cost-control measures and making efforts to differentiate its offerings from competitors. Warner Brothers is also close to selling off nearly all of its regional sports business, named Root Sports Northwest, after the ongoing baseball season ends. Despite the challenges, WBD stock has gained 35.7% so far this year.
With seven Buys versus three Hold ratings, WBD stock has a Moderate Buy consensus rating. On TipRanks, the average Warner Brothers Discovery price forecast of $20.88 implies an impressive 61.2% upside potential from current levels.