It was less than a month ago, on March 29, that CNN launched its subscription streaming service CNN+, but that rollout has not gone quite as had been anticipated.
There are now already reports indicating that the fledgling platform will soon meet its demise at the hands of Warner Bros. Discovery executives who are displeased with the streaming service’s weak launch, according to PJ Media.
This news comes amid reports that initial subscriptions and viewership are well below minimum expectations and that some of the “talent” hired exclusively for the service are unhappy with how things have turned out thus far.
CNN+ placed on life support by new management
Axios reported in a “scoop” on Monday that executives at Warner Bros. Discovery, which just took over a few weeks following the completion of a merger, are already taking steps to pull the plug on CNN+.
That includes suspending all spending on external marketing and laying off several members of the finance team, including CNN’s longtime Chief Financial Officer Brad Ferrer, along with other high-level executives in other parts of the business.
Incredibly, CNN executives were said to have been pleased with the initial rollout of the streaming service and had already invested $300 million in the venture as part of a $1 billion four-year plan.
Discovery executives see things quite differently, however, and had hoped that the CNN+ launch would have been delayed until after the merger so it could make the changes that it deemed necessary, such as a reduction in opinion programming and a renewed focus on “straight” hard news coverage.
Nobody was watching CNN, and even fewer are watching CNN+
The launch of CNN+ has indeed been quite dismal, as CNN executives had anticipated drawing upwards of 2 million new subscribers in the first year but have only garnered approximately 150,000 in the first month. The aforementioned four-year plan was banked on projections that the platform would have 15-18 million subscribers over that time frame.
Factor into that the fact that the vast majority of those new subscribers aren’t even actually utilizing the service, as the New York Post reported about a week ago that CNN+ was only averaging around 10,000 viewers per day — a minuscule fraction of the roughly 775,000 daily viewers for CNN, which itself is well behind rival competitors Fox News and MSNBC.
That report from the Post, just two weeks after CNN+ first launched, made it clear that the end was likely nigh for the highly promoted but underwhelming new streaming platform.
The plug could be pulled as soon as this week
Now comes word in an “exclusive” from Variety that Warner Bros. Discovery executives were planning to inform employees as soon as Thursday that a decision had already been made to shut down CNN+ in its entirety less than a month after it initially launched.
If that is, in fact, the case, then it is quite likely, according to the Axios scoop, that whatever remains of CNN+’s news programming that isn’t completely axed could end up being shifted over to the HBO Max platform that is also owned by Warner Bros. Discovery.