Less than two weeks after Discovery took over WarnerMedia, the new management decided to shut down the ambitious new streaming service CNN+ by April 30, a mere month after launch.
“While today’s decision is incredibly difficult, it is the right one for the long-term success of CNN,” Chris Licht, the incoming president of CNN, wrote in a memo. “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.”
He added: “This is not a decision about quality; we appreciate all of 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 simpler streaming choice.”
There were no shortage of skeptics when CNN made the announcement last year to create a separate subscription-only streaming service in an already crowded streaming world.
CNN invested hundreds of millions of dollars into CNN+ in the biggest company expansion since Ted Turner launched the network in 1980. WarnerMedia in recent months made some big-name hires like Chris Wallace from Fox News,, Kasie Hunt from NBC News and MSNBC and former NPR host Audie Cornish.
As a symbolic gesture last month, CNN said Turner was the first subscriber.
CNN+ featured all extra shows and programs not available on CNN itself but did not include any live programming from CNN itself because of agreements with cable carriers.
Most of the 400-plus new hires for the streaming service were based in New York City so the end of CNN+ will have little impact on CNN’s Atlanta operations. (CNN has almost 2,000 employees in Atlanta.)
New CEO David Zaslav, who has run Discovery since 2006, has said publicly that he would like to eventually combine all of the company’s streaming assets, which also include Discovery+ and HBO Max, under one service.
Variety reports Zaslav was annoyed that WarnerMedia decided to launch CNN+ right before Discovery was set to take over.
Andrew Morse, CNN’s executive vice president who oversaw CNN+, is expected to leave.
Licht in an internal memo said all CNN+ employees be paid and receive benefits for the next 90 days and given a shot to work at other parts of CNN, CNN Digital and elsewhere at Warner Bros. Discovery. Some of the CNN+ programming and talent will likely land on CNN and/or HBO Max. But many are now having to hunt for new jobs just weeks or months after joining CNN+.
The New York Times, citing unnamed sources, said CNN+ had picked up about 150,000 subscribers before the announced shutdown and was hoping for 2 million subscribers after one year.
Fox News has run Fox Nation, a streaming service, for several years. NBC is adding shows on its Peacock streaming service while CBS is doing the same for Paramount+. ABC’s venue is Hulu. It’s likely that CNN will move some of its CNN+ programming to HBO Max.