CNN+ has been cancelled by Warner Bros. Discovery after the network’s recently launched streaming service failed to gain traction with viewers. On April 30, it will close its doors.
CNN Worldwide CEO Chris Licht said in a statement that “As we become Warner Bros. Discovery, CNN will be strongest as part of WBD’s streaming strategy which envisions news as an important part of a compelling broader offering along with sports, entertainment, and nonfiction content.”
“We have therefore made the decision to cease operations of CNN+ and focus our investment on CNN’s core news-gathering operations and in further building CNN Digital,” Licht continued. “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.”
Following the completion of a long-planned merger between Discovery and WarnerMedia earlier this month, there was widespread anticipation that CNN’s new parent company, Warner Bros. Discovery, might reduce back or discontinue the programme. Many industry experts have questioned why CNN introduced the programme so soon after the deal was announced.
On the eve of CNN+’s widely hyped premiere, CNN staged a fancy launch party on March 28. The event was held on the 101st floor of Hudson Yards, with a view of Manhattan, and was attended by executives, on-air personalities, and reporters who are friendly with CNN. The merger between WarnerMedia and Discovery was completed on April 8.
CNN+ subscribers will receive prorated refunds of their membership fees, according to the company.
Former CNN president Jeff Zucker and former WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar, who are no longer with the firm, created the failing service.
Although it was believed that Licht and Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav would steer CNN away from the far-left programming strategy that was dominant during the Zucker administration, CNN+ featured liberal experts such as Rex Chapman and Jemele Hill. It also included actress and Democratic activist Eva Longoria, as well as former Fox News host Chris Wallace, NPR broadcaster Audie Cornish, and former NBC reporter Kasie Hunt.
According to reports, the former management team spent $100 million on development costs and had around 500 people working on the service. “some CNN+ content will wind up on other company networks,” according to the Associated Press, and staff of the streaming service “will get opportunities to apply for jobs elsewhere inside Warner Bros. Discovery.”
CNN+ debuted with minimal fanfare a month ago, and was swiftly derided when subscriber data was released, revealing alarmingly low numbers.
When original CNN anchor Dave Walker joined the inaugural edition of Zucker loyalist Brian Stelter’s new streaming show and declared he isn’t happy with the current state of the network on the first day the new service was active, a guest on the platform criticised CNN for drifting away from straight news.
“I used to anchor at CNN, and now I just yell at CNN,” Walker explained. “I think originally, it was pretty much 99 percent news content … As cable news evolved and more competition came into the fray, you had more opinion, particularly in the evening hours. And I would say that’s the major difference now. But maybe with the new ownership that may revert to more just basic news coverage.”
Andrew Morse, CNN’s executive vice president and chief digital officer, will leave the firm after overseeing the service.
“We are grateful to Andrew for his significant contributions to CNN Digital and CNN+ over the years,’’ Licht said. “He and his team created a quality slate of rich and compelling content and helped produce and distribute CNN’s journalism around the world on a variety of platforms. We appreciate Andrew and everyone’s hard work and dedication.’’
In a statement, Morse said it was “an honor to work alongside the world’s best journalists these past nine years.”
“I am a great believer that change is critical – for individuals and for organizations. As the company enters an exciting period of change, it is a logical time to make a change for myself. I’ll always be rooting for CNN,” Morse said.
A request for more information from Morse was not immediately returned.
Alex MacCallum, the current head of product and general manager of CNN+, has been named the new president of CNN Digital.