AT&T’s purchase of Time Warner has caused some corporate reshuffling. David Levy is out as president of Turner, and that means a new leader is needed for Turner Sports. AT&T will hand the reigns of that division over to CNN President Jeff Zucker according to Joe Flint of The Wall Street Journal.
Flint noted in his report that not only is Zucker a huge sports fan, but that he even cited ESPN’s First Take as his guide for remaking CNN’s election coverage. It is something Zucker spoke about in a 2017 New York Times profile.
Zucker is a big sports fan and from the early days of the campaign had spoken at editorial meetings about wanting to incorporate elements of ESPN’s programming into CNN’s election coverage. “The idea that politics is sport is undeniable, and we understood that and approached it that way,” he told me. Toward that end, the network built “pregame” sets outside debate halls with excited crowds in the background and created a temporary rooftop studio for the final weeks of the campaign with sweeping views of the White House and the Washington Monument. An on-screen countdown clock ticked down the days (then hours) to Nov. 8. Trump, the trash-talking (and trash-Tweeting) underdog who inspired raw, powerful feelings among supporters and detractors alike, was the ideal subject for this narrative framework.Jonathan Mahler, The New York Times
Prior to taking the reigns at CNN, Zucker rose through the ranks at NBC. He started as a producer for NBC News before moving on to run The Today Show and eventually becoming CEO of NBC Universal.
By all accounts, Zucker took a hands-off approach to NBC Sports during his time as CEO of NBC Universal. The man he is replacing, David Levy, plays an active role in securing rights deals with the NCAA, the NBA and Major League Baseball for Turner. It remains to be seen how involved Zucker will have to be in that process. Also waiting to be determined is the future of Lenny Daniels, who has served as president of Turner Sports since 2014.