Warner Bros. Discovery is shutting down the CNN+ stand-alone streaming service just weeks after it launched with heavy promotion and hundreds of millions invested. Not a great look for the “most trusted name in news.”
Chris Licht, new Chairman and CEO of CNN Worldwide said the decision is not about the quality of the platform and commended the “terrific talent and compelling programming.” The news service launched on March 29, but two weeks later had less than 10,000 daily active viewers.
The Fox Nation streaming service, by comparison, is estimated to have 1 million subscribers.
This led to widespread speculation that CNN’s new parent company, which completed its merger earlier this month, would look to cut losses on an initial $300 million investment. CNN+ was the brainchild of, among others, disgraced former CNN president Jeff Zucker, who is no longer with the company.
Besides the collective yawn by the viewing public that greeted the leftist platform, another nail in its coffin was the reported irritation of David Zaslav, new CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery. Even as the merger process was taking place, former WarnerMedia executives decided to launch CNN+. And due to legal restrictions with the ongoing merger, Zaslav was unable to communicate his disagreement with the strategy.
Roughly 600 people were employed on the service, and Warner Bros. Discovery says they “will get opportunities to apply for jobs” elsewhere in the company. The employees were also told they will be paid and receive benefits for the next 90 days, and anyone CNN+ employee who leaves then will get a minimum six-month severance.
The company also announced CNN+ subscribers will get prorated refunds for subscription fees already paid. Staffers were called into an “all-hands” meeting Thursday and were told that once the decision was made that the service did not fit into plans, the choice was to end it now “and not a second longer.”
Employees heard that consumers do not want to pay more money for niche services and that Warner Bros. Discovery will not continue efforts where the end result is already known. If that’s true, then maybe — just maybe — they’ll return the network to the days when it was a destination for straightforward news and not just another Democratic party mouthpiece.