What happened to CNN Plus?

CNN Plus (CNN+) was a video streaming service and offshoot of the company’s cable TV news network that was launched on March 29, 2022.

CNN+ was conceived in July 2021 as a 24/7 streaming service that would feature 8-12 hours of live content with archived content, network original series, and a community where viewers could interact with on-air talent.

Despite recruiting a team of notable news anchors, radio hosts, and journalists, CNN+ was shut down just one month after it was launched.

What contributed to the swift demise of CNN+?

WarnerMedia acquisition

On April 8, 2022, CNN parent company WarnerMedia merged with Discovery to become Warner Bros. Discovery. 

Chairman and CEO of CNN Worldwide Chris Licht stated that post-merger, a decision was made to “cease operations of CNN+ and focus our investment on CNN’s core news-gathering operations and in further building CNN Digital.” 

Licht also alluded to the fact that customers did not want or need CNN Plus and, most importantly, were not willing to pay for it: “This is not a decision about quality; we appreciate all the work, ambition and creativity that went into building CNN+, an organization with terrific talent and compelling programming. But our customers and CNN will be best served with a simple streaming choice.

The merger also left Discovery with a debt of around $55 billion that executives were keen to repay.

CNN had also planned to spend $1 billion on CNN+ over the next four years, but Discovery was unimpressed with the numbers after learning that at any given time, less than 10,000 viewers were on the platform.

Lack of must-see content

CNN+ was promoted as a service that complemented CNN’s traditional cable TV news network.

As a result, the platform did not feature a live feed of CNN which meant viewers could not access breaking news stories.

This was a major drawback of CNN+ since consumers expect to be able to watch the news as it happens – irrespective of which platform they are using.

While CNN+ had an extensive library of content, none of it was especially compelling and many shows could be found elsewhere.

Content such as Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown and some of the best Larry King interviews, it was argued, could easily exist on CNN’s main website.

Market saturation

Lacking any sort of buzz, the CNN+ platform was also released in a market many believed was reaching saturation point.

Two days before it was abruptly shut down, Netflix reported that it had lost 200,000 subscribers in the previous quarter – the first time it had lost subscribers in over ten years. 

While negative market sentiment was not the principal cause of the platform’s demise, it no doubt served as a warning for other media companies looking to join the increasingly crowded, post-COVID-19 streaming market.

Shutdown

On April 21, 2022, Warner Bros. Discovery announced the streaming service would be shut down by the end of the month. 

Incoming network president Chris Licht said that “While today’s decision is incredibly difficult, it is the right one for the long-term success of CNN.

Key takeaways:

  • CNN Plus was a video streaming service and offshoot of CNN’s cable TV news network that was launched on March 29, 2022. The service was ultimately shut down just one month after it was launched.
  • Trouble began for the platform when parent company WarnerMedia merged with Discovery. The latter was unimpressed with paltry viewer data and, with $55 billion in debt to clear, was not interested in funding CNN+ moving forward.
  • Other contributing factors to CNN Plus’s demise include a lack of compelling content and streaming service market saturation.

Read Also: Netflix Business Model.

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