Variety has learned that Warner Bros. Discovery will be pulling the plug on CNN+ on April 30. The decision may not surprise anyone who has been following the service’s performance, as the platform wasn’t even able to draw more than 10,000 users on a daily basis after its debut late last month. CNN+ launched on March 29 for $5.99 a month or $59.99 annually with live, on-demand, and interactive programming that nobody apparently cared for.
“This decision is in line with WBD’s broader direct-to-consumer strategy,” said Chris Licht, CNN’s incoming CEO, in a statement. “In a complex streaming market, consumers want simplicity and an all-in service, which provides a better experience and more value than stand-alone offerings.”
CNN+ Is Shutting Down One Month After Launch (EXCLUSIVE) (Variety)
The decision puts an abrupt end to an ambitious and aggressive venture that people familiar with the matter say rankled David Zaslav, the new CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery, from the start. Zaslav was annoyed by the decision of Jason Kilar, the former CEO of WarnerMedia when it was owned by AT&T, to launch CNN+ just weeks before Discovery was set to take over operations. But he was unable to communicate with WarnerMedia management, owing to legal boundaries surrounding the merger process.
CNN plowed millions into the venture, raiding news executives and producers from places like ABC News and NBC News, and singing on notables like food writer Alison Roman and business professor Scott Galloway. Current staffers like Anderson Cooper and Don Lemon were assigned, respectively, to lead a show on parenting and a talk show with a live audience. A show led by Jemele Hill and Cari Champion had yet to launch. CNN had also made some deals with talent for CNN+ that it had to unveil, according to a person familiar with the situation.