Just a few weeks ago, CNN rolled out its new subscription streaming service CNN+ to much fanfare.
But on Thursday, the network’s owner, Warner Bros. Discovery, announced it was pulling the plug.
The New York Times reported Friday:
Warner Bros. Discovery has decided to shut down CNN+, the ballyhooed streaming service that had been intended to bring CNN into the digital future, just weeks after its splashy debut, according to two people familiar with its plans.
The service is set to cease operations on April 30. Andrew Morse, CNN’s chief digital officer and a key architect of the streaming strategy, will step down, another person said.
Chris Licht, the incoming president of CNN, called an all-hands meeting among CNN+ staffers for noon on Thursday to share the news.
Shutting down the streamer comes just a few weeks after it was launched “with ambitious plans to spend heavily and expand fast,” the Times continued. When former president Jeff Zucker was still at the helm, he managed to attract some top talent, most notable among them former “Fox News Sunday” anchor Chris Wallace, but also former NPR co-host Audie Cornish and food writer Alison Roman.
“But the service’s fortunes changed abruptly after CNN’s former parent, WarnerMedia — owner of the prestige TV powerhouse HBO and the storied Warner Bros. film studio — completed its merger with Discovery, home to reality TV hits like ’90 Day Fiancé’ and the home-improvement gurus Chip and Joanna Gaines,” the Times added.
“Since the merger closed earlier this month, doubts have swirled over the future of CNN+, which was promoted to CNN employees and subscribers as the future of the network,” the paper said.
There were foreshadowing reports that the network was not long for this world.
Axios reported earlier this week in a “scoop” that the network has pulled “all external marketing” campaigns, which is an indication that the sun is about to set on the streamer after its March 29 launch.
The Daily Wire reports:
Despite insiders at CNN reportedly believing the launch went well, executives at Warner Bros. Discovery apparently disagree — and have responded by laying off CNN’s chief financial officer and terminating “all external marketing” for the streaming service while they determine the best course of action for its future.
According to the Axios report, there are several factors influencing the possible outcomes. First, despite projecting two million subscribers in the first year and profitability after four, CNN+ has only signed on about 150,000 so far — even with a discounted monthly price offering for those who sign up in the first five weeks. The streaming service’s average daily viewership, according to CNBC, is fewer than 10,000.