As far as much-hyped but short-lived ventures go, CNN+ is up there with the most underwhelming in history. And as of April 30, it will shut down just a month after its launch. It was originally pitched as the biggest expansion in CNN’s history. The newly launched platform has seemingly become one of the first casualties of the Warner Media merger with Discovery. New management has decided that the streaming service is not worth continuing with.
CNN+ launched right before the Warner and Discovery merger
CNN+ launched just a fortnight before the merger between Warner Media and Discovery was completed. And it was reportedly not great timing. By all accounts, there was always a different plan in place. But for legal reasons, it could not be communicated to CNN’s executive team until the paperwork was all completed. Now with the new joint company being expected to save $3 billion to please Wall Street, CNN+ was never going to manage to continue as a viable concern.
J.B. Perrette, streaming boss of Discovery, said in a statement, “In a complex streaming market, consumers want simplicity and an all-in service which provides a better experience and more value than stand-alone offerings, and, for the company, a more sustainable business model to drive our future investments in great journalism and storytelling. We have very exciting opportunities ahead in the streaming space and CNN, one of the world’s premier reputational assets, will play an important role there.”
The journalists I have been privileged to work with on CNN Plus are world class— Kasie Hunt (@kasie) April 21, 2022
I am so incredibly proud to be able to call them colleagues
If your organization would like a chance to benefit from their talents, my DMs are open
This is *my* job for the foreseeable future
CNN has not said how popular the streaming service was
There has been some doubt over how successful the launch of CNN+ was. No information has been released about how many subscribers were drawn into the $5.99 a month service. Some suggest that the uptake was not anywhere near as much as projected. That is in complete contrast to a town hall meeting among staff in which incoming CNN CEO Chris Licht said that “This was an incredibly successful launch,” but the new director of the company means it just doesn’t fit the program.
The decision about the fate of CNN+ seems to have been made before the service even launched. The platform is not the only one that is facing changes and potential problems in the immediate future. During the Covid pandemic, many streaming services saw subscriber numbers rocket due to families being stuck at home in lockdown with nothing to do and in some cases spare cash that they couldn’t spend on going out and leisure activities. However, now most counties are treating Covid as an acceptable risk, all of that has changed again.
Netflix is bleeding subscribers
This week Netflix revealed to have lost around 200,000 subscribers since the last quarter. This was worked out as a gain of 500,000 and a loss of 700,000. The latter partly down to the suspension of service in Russian due to their invasion of Ukraine. Having initially expected to gain around 2.5 million subscribers in this period, the streamer is now facing some dramatic changes to the way it invests its money, how it deals with password sharing among family members, and discussions about how it can prevent further huge losses in subscribers.
With many streaming platforms all facing difficult choices about the services they offer, the prices they charge and how to try and keep increasing subscriber numbers in a very crowded market, the loss of CNN+ is possibly one that could have been foreseen moment the WarnerMedia-Discovery deal was done. The real question now is what changes will we see across the streaming world in general as we come out of the pandemic. We can find dozens of platforms all fighting for the attention of audiences who may no longer have time to invest in them.