New Bosses Nuke CNN+: Streaming Service Is No More

From a story on by Rachael Bade and Garrett Ross headlined “New bosses nuke CNN+”:

After weeks of stories indicating that CNN+ was lagging behind internal expectations for new subscribers, the fledgling streaming service is no more.

“Warner Bros. Discovery is shutting down CNN+ as of April 30, marking one of the company’s first significant maneuvers since completing the merger of WarnerMedia and Discovery less than two weeks ago,” Variety’s Brian Steinberg scoops. “The decision puts an abrupt end to an ambitious 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.

We obtained a copy of CEO CHRIS LICHT’s email to CNN staff, which went out just a short while ago. Here’s what he said:

  • “This decision is in line with WBD’s broader direct-to-consumer strategy. 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+ staff will have about three months to figure out their next moves: “As part of the transition plan, all CNN+ employees will continue to be paid and receive benefits for the next 90 days to explore opportunities at CNN, CNN Digital and elsewhere in the Warner Bros. Discovery family. At the end of that period, any departing CNN+ employee will receive a minimum of six-month severance (depending on length of service at CNN).”

Staff at CNN are already worried about layoffs, per sources we’re texting with over there. And for good reason. The company poured a ton of money ($300 million, reportedly) into building out a robust staff and drawing in top talent for the streaming service — from CHRIS WALLACE to KASIE HUNT to AUDIE CORNISH. What happens to the 400 people they just hired?

What comes next, via CNN’s Oliver Darcy and Brian Stelter: “David Zaslav, the chief executive of Warner Bros. Discovery, has said that he wants to house all of the company’s brands under one streaming service. Some CNN+ programming may eventually live on through that service.

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