CNN’s streaming service spent $300 million in three weeks before its parent company pulled the plug
CNN’s parent company Warner Bros. Discovery has officially pulled the plug on the premium streaming service CNN+ after just three weeks. Thursday’s announcement came as a “total and total shock” to employees of the service, which has reportedly already spent $300 million hiring, launching and advertising top corporate media talent, with an additional $700 million in investment planned.
Variety magazine broke the story Thursday morning, saying the decision came from the CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery, David Zaslav. By noon, CNN executives confirmed it to staff at their offices in a New York City high-rise building, saying the service would be shut down on April 30.
The announcement was received with “total and total shock” That “turned into despair”, an anonymous contributor told CNN’s Brian Stelter and Oliver Darcy. Staff members were “freaking out” first, then “turned into sadness” for the outbreak of whiskey and wine “Have pity.”
Officially, Zaslav wants to bring all of the company’s brands together under one streaming service. CNN+ was commissioned by former WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar just weeks before Discovery acquired parent company AT&T earlier this year.
CNN planned to put $1 billion into the venture, hire executives, producers and on-air talent from other networks, and planned for CNN+ to break even after four years. The service attracted a staggering 150,000 subscribers in its first few weeks, according to some reports, though others said just 10,000 people tuned in daily.
Chris Licht, the new CEO of CNN, announced the end, telling CNN+ staff that they would be paid for the next 90 days and given opportunities to be hired elsewhere within the company.
“It’s not your fault you let the rug pull out from under you,” Light reportedly said during the meeting on Thursday, explaining that it was not about the quality of their product, but the business strategy.
Former US President Donald Trump responded by congratulating CNN+ on its decision to fold because of: “lack of ratings or viewers in any way” and called the service “another piece of CNN and fake news that we don’t have to worry about anymore.”
Independent journalist Glenn Greenwald be aware the demand for news was there, but the public didn’t want that “branch who spreads disinformation to serve one party:”
“CNN+ had a short life – if you blinked, you missed it – but the light it cast on the world was dull, banal and meaningless, like a wisp of wind that you’re not even sure it was blowing by,” Greenwald reports this on Twitter.