CNN+ Streaming Service Shuttered Weeks After Launch

Staff were told that they are in a ”uniquely shitty situation” after outgoing management’s plans conflicted with Warner Bros. Discovery’s streaming vision
803

The recently-launched streaming service CNN+, which was heavily marketed to viewers and touted to staffers as the future of the cable news network, will be shut down at the end of this month, its new parent company Warner Bros. Discovery announced on Thursday.

The streaming service—which features daily live programming and new, lighter weekly shows hosted by CNN anchors Anderson Cooper (on parenting) and Jake Tapper (interviewing writers) while adding others hosted by Fox News alum Chris Wallace, former NPR host Audie Cornish, and more—will cease operations on April 30. The news comes after CNN parent company WarnerMedia merged with Discovery to form Warner Bros. Discovery earlier this month.

“While today’s decision is incredibly difficult, it is the right one for the long-term success of CNN,” incoming president of CNN Chris Licht wrote in a memo obtained by the New York Times. “It allows us to refocus resources on the core products that drive our singular focus: further enhancing CNN’s journalism and its reputation as a global news leader.”

CNN+ launched with much fanfare and a nationwide marketing campaign just two weeks before the finalization of the WarnerMedia-Discovery merger. It seems that the former leadership at CNN and WarnerMedia had different visions of how to handle streaming than that of Warner Bros. Discovery’s incoming top brass—but none of this could legally be communicated until the merger was completed.

Licht told staffers at a Thursday meeting that they are in a “uniquely shitty situation.”

Warner Bros. Discovery now plans to house all brands under one streaming service, CNN’s media reporters Oliver Darcy and Brian Stelter wrote in a co-bylined story on CNN.com on Thursday. Shows that appeared on CNN+ may eventually be folded into the new Warner Bros. Discovery streaming service while other programs may shift to CNN’s TV network.

The company invested hundreds of millions of dollars into the CNN+ project, according to Stelter and Darcy, hiring top on-air talent and hundreds of staffers who were told on Thursday afternoon via a memo that they will be paid for the next 90 days and can explore other opportunities within the company.

CNN Chief Digital Officer Andrew Morse, who had a major hand in the network’s streaming strategy, will step down from his position. WarnerMedia executives Ann Sarnoff and Jason Kilar have also announced that they’re out.

CNN+ customers “will receive prorated refunds of subscription fees,” the company said.


Want the Daily Brief in your inbox? Sign up for our newsletters today.