CNN+ was promoted heavily for a long time before finally launching at the end of March.
That came after months of promoting the additions of talent and new programming that would be exclusive to the premium subscription service. That included some programming hosted by people from the world of sports, like Rex Chapman, and other programming that focused more directly on sports, like Jemele Hill and Cari Champion’s weekly series.
Now, less than a month after the service launched, Variety’s Brian Steinberg reports Warner Brothers Discovery is shutting it down.
Warner Bros. Discovery is shutting down CNN+ and is expected to provide details to staffers Thursday, according to two people familiar with the matter.
Spokespersons for CNN and Warner Bros. Discovery could not be reached for immediate comment.
Chris Licht, the incoming CEO of CNN, sent a memo to staffers Thursday morning about “an important meeting” to be held at noon, and is at that time expected to inform staffer about the decision, these people said.
CNN+ had struggled from the start, with a recent CNBC report detailing that the streaming service was drawing only around 10,000 users per day. That’s abysmal, albeit perhaps predictable. It was never easy to tell who this would be for. Sure, cable news has viewers, but it’s also always on; if you’re a cable news fan, there’s always cable news to watch. There were plenty of talented people signed up here, and hopefully they’re taken care of, but the demand was always suspect.
On top of that, launching the service a couple of weeks before a massive corporate merger certainly didn’t help. The incoming corporate overlords weren’t going to care about the project, and the results have made it a pretty easy call for them to make.
What a giant mess.
It’s at the very least a nice reminder that just pivoting to a premium streaming service is absolutely not a guarantee of success. Considering pretty much every media executive with rights to a meager content library has spent the last five years justifying their salaries by declaring this model the future, we could be in line for a few more of these collapses.