Media News: CNN+ Shuts Down!

“This is not a decision about quality,” new CNN CEO Chris Licht told staff, adding that the brand’s programming will become part of a “broader” streaming offering.

 

Less than a month after launching, the streaming CNN+ will shut down operations, as its new corporate owner Warner Bros. Discovery rethinks the news giant’s streaming strategy.

The service will cease April 30, after launching on March 29.

WarnerMedia had spent some $300 million on the launch of CNN+, and planned to spend hundreds of millions more in the coming months and years. Subscribers to CNN+ will receive prorated refunds for their fees.

 

CNN employees were informed of the decision Thursday by incoming CNN CEO Chris Licht. Andrew Morse, the CNN digital executive who oversaw the launch of CNN+, will depart the company. CNN executive Alex MacCallum, who had been CNN+’s GM, will step in to lead CNN Digital following Morse’s departure.

“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,” said Licht in a statement.  “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. 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.”

While CNN+ will be shutting down, CNN programming is expected to become an important piece of WB Discovery’s overall streaming lineup. Some shows are expected to find their way to HBO Max, which will become the centerpiece of the company’s streaming efforts. Others may live on CNN’s digital properties. It is not clear what will happen to the talent hired specifically for CNN+, like former Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, though some will find places to land elsewhere in the company’s stable of programming.

Most CNN+ employees, meanwhile, will be out of the job. Staff were told Thursday that they will continue to be paid and receive benefits for 90 days, and will be encouraged to apply for jobs elsewhere at the company. After that 90 day period, they will be laid of with a minimum of 6 months severance.

“Consumers are the center of our strategy,’’ WB Discovery’s streaming chief JB Perrette said 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, and, for the company, 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.’’