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CNN’s Newly Launched Streaming Service to Shutdown Amid Dismal Uptake

Published: April 21, 2022
Andrew Morse gives remarks onstage during the CNN+ Launch Event at PEAK NYC Hudson Yards on March 28, 2022 in New York City. (Image: Noam Galai/Getty Images CNN+)

CNN+, CNN’s newly launched streaming service, lauded by the legacy media giant as “one of the most significant developments in the history of CNN,” will be shutting down on April 30, just one month after its launch. 

The news was announced on April 21, with information relayed to CNN+ staffers at an all-hands meeting. Andrew Morse, who led the streaming service, is reportedly leaving the company. 

Chris Licht, CEO of CNN Global said workers 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).”

The announcement follows a report by CNBC on April 12 that revealed fewer than 10,000 people were using CNN+ on a daily basis.

CNN+ launched to mixed reviews with Vulture writing at the time of the launch, “While it’s far too early to reach any definitive judgements, CNN+ in its formative phase feels somewhat like the Quibi of streaming news: Lots of money has been spent, big stars are onboard, but it’s hard to figure out just what the service is supposed to be and why a large number of people will want to pay for it.”

The streaming service received a two-star review out of a possible four by Newsday’s media critic Verne Gay who praised the platforms lack of commercial interruption and PC Magazine gave CNN+ a 4.0 out of 5 rating, also praising the platform’s lack of ads while critizing its lack of live CNN programming. 

CNN stated in an article on the matter, “The decision was made by new management after CNN’s former parent company, WarnerMedia, merged with Discovery to form Warner Bros. Discovery earlier this month,” adding that, “The prior management team’s vision for CNN+ runs counter to Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav’s plan to house all of the company’s brands under one streaming service.”

In a meeting with staffers Litch said, “this was an incredibly successful launch” however conceded that CNN+ was “simply incompatible” with the newly merged company’s plans. 

Touted as “the most significant launch since Ted Turner founded CNN in 1980,” CNN poured millions of dollars into the streaming service app and “lured top talent from other networks for it. Including Kasie Hunt from NBC and Chris Wallace from Fox News.”

CNN says programming will continue to stream through the end of the month and that CNN+ customers “will receive prorated refunds of subscription fees.”