Plans announced to cancel CNN+ less than a month after launch

CNN announced with much fanfare in March that it was unrolling a new streaming service called CNN+. Yet less than a month later, the network revealed that it’s pulling the plug. 

The New York Times reported on Thursday that incoming CNN president Chris Licht told staff that CNN+ is scheduled to shut down on April 30.

CNN president tells employees “you had the rug pulled out from under you”

“While today’s decision is incredibly difficult, it is the right one for the long-term success of CNN,” Licht was quoted as saying.

That decision comes in the wake of what were reportedly abysmal ratings. Two CNN insiders who spoke on the condition of anonymity told the Times that “at any given time, fewer than 10,000 people were watching the service.”

During his presentation, Licht said the demise of CNN+ was not the fault of those who worked there, insisting that employees “had the rug pulled out from underneath you.”

CNN+ was effectively the brainchild of former CNN president Jeff Zucker, who resigned from his position amid scandal early this year. Licht compared the project to a house that was built without insight from its future owner.

“Then the new owner came in and said: ‘What a beautiful house! But I need an apartment,” Licht told the CNN+ staff.

“And that doesn’t take anything away from this beautiful house you built,” Licht continued, adding, “I am proud of it, and I am proud of this team, and I am gutted by what this means for you.”

Serious problems were reported early on

CNBC noted on April 12 that CNN had been attempting to project a positive outlook, with a spokesperson saying, “We continue to be happy with the launch and its progress after only two weeks.”

Similarly, former WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar continued to tout the service after his departure this month, telling CNBC’s Julia Boorstin it was “ahead of my expectations in terms of where the subscribers are, the engagement, the receptiveness that we’re getting in terms of people’s response to the journalists of CNN+.”

Yet even at that juncture, CNBC cited sources within CNN as saying that CNN+ was attracting far fewer viewers than had been expected.

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