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CNN’s newly merged parent company, Warner Bros. Discovery, will end the leftist network’s new streaming service after just three weeks of its launch, due to a resounding failure in subscription numbers.
In a statement quoted by the network itself, Discovery’s head of broadcast, J.B. Perrette, said the company is looking for “a more sustainable business model to drive our future investments in great journalism and storytelling.”
“We have very exciting opportunities ahead in the streaming space and CNN, one of the world’s premier reputational assets, will play an important role there,” Perrette added.
CNN’s “spectacular failure” in an attempt to lift its audience
As reported by The New York Times, the company will cease operations of CNN+ on April 30 and CNN’s digital director, Andrew Morse, will also be removed from his position after a transition period and his replacement will be Alex MacCallum, current Chief Product Officer and General Manager of the streaming platform.
The closure of CNN’s streaming service could be “the most spectacular failure we’ve seen in media history,” according to The Hill’s political columnist Joe Concha.
In a memo distributed by Chris Licht, CNN’s next president, the company announced that the “difficult decision” to shut down the streaming service “is the right one for the long-term success” of the news network.
The move “allows us to refocus resources on the core products that drive our singular focus: further enhancing CNN’s journalism and its reputation as a global news leader,” Licht said in the statement, saying the decision is part of a “broader strategy.”
As Variety magazine reports, the launch of CNN+ shortly before the WarnerMedia-Discovery merger rankled David Zaslav, the parent company’s new CEO, who had intended to combine all of the company’s video broadcast assets into a single platform, including Discovery+ and HBO Max.
Months before the birth of Warner Bros. Discovery, one of its main shareholders, billionaire John Malone, had already expressed his dissatisfaction with the direction CNN had taken, and said that selling the news network would be “a coward’s way out”, so he hoped it would return to “real journalism”.
Faced with a precipitous decline in the news network’s viewership and amid a maelstrom of scandals, CNN+ reportedly cost an investment of more than $300 million and accumulated only about 150,000 subscribers to date, and attempted to regain public attention by hiring stars such as actress Eva Longoria, longtime Fox News anchor Chris Wallace and former NYT columnist Alison Roman.