In a twist that will not shock the few people who actually knew what CNN+ was, Variety has reported that CNN’s premium streaming service will shut down on April 30th, just a month after it was launched.
CNN+ managed to capture 100,000 subscribers in its first week, something that is essentially a drop in the bucket compared to its streaming contemporaries. Subscription prices were advertised to be $5.99 per month or $59.99 per year, with a deal for those who bought a monthly subscription in the service’s first month getting a permanent discount og $2.99. Even so, that was not enough to draw a significant audience to the streamer that was launched less than two weeks before Discovery’s acquisition of WanerMedia was finalized.
With the Warner Bros. Discovery merger, it isn’t surprising that CNN+ was put on the chopping block. While platforms like HBO Max and Discovery+ will be merged into one, CNN+ simply doesn’t have the same weight behind it. The platform was host to all of CNN’s original series and films alongside a slate of daily and weekly shows hosted by Anderson Cooper, Audie Cornish, Chris Wallace, Alison Roman and Wolf Blitzer among others. CNBC reported there were only 10,000 users a day on the service, which is only 1.2% of the audience that CNN’s cable network draws. Simply looking at the talent working on content for both CNN and CNN+, it made no logical sense to keep the streaming service going with so little reward.
To its credit, CNN+ has managed to make its mark on the streaming world via its untimely demise. Previously, Quibi held the record for shortest lived streaming service, when it announced it was shutting down 6 months after its launch, finally ceasing operation 2 months later. CNN+ has, clearly, smashed that timeline to smithereens by taking one-eighth of the time to do the exact same thing.
Regardless of whether or not CNN+ was doomed to fail, the end result of any streaming service being shut down is people losing their jobs. To his credit, CNN CEO Chris Licht told staffers that “It was not [their] fault that the rug was pulled out from underneath [them],” but that doesn’t change the fact that there are people who started work at CNN+ relatively recently who now face the risk of unemployment. The increased bloating that streaming as a medium has endured over the last five years will only lead to a burst in the bubble at some point. The fallout from that, gradual or all at once, will leave a significant amount of people burned. CNN+ might be the Streaming Wars casualty of the day, but it certainly won’t be the last time we see a platform fall from grace—if they were even able to make it there in the first place.
Kathryn Porter is the TV Intern for Paste Magazine. You can find her @kaechops on Twitter.
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