Companies are always coming up with ways to boost their revenue. However, as CNN has recently confirmed, the ideas don’t always stick. It is shuttering its CNN+ service less than a month after launch.
CEO Chris Licht conveyed the news of the service shutdown during a meeting with employees. This is a sharp turn of events for a service billed as one of the most significant developments in the media outfit’s history.
After CNN+ stops on April 30th, subscribers will get a prorated refund of their payments. The streaming service had consumed hundreds of millions of dollars to get going and was supposed to feature hours of daily live programming and weekly shows.
CNN+ is being axed after CNN’s parent company, WarnerMedia, merged with Discovery to form Warner Bros. Discovery. The handwriting had been on the wall for some time because the goal of the CNN+ management team was not compatible with Warner Bros. Discovery CEO’s plan to bring all the company’s brands under a single streaming service.
However, some of CNN+ programming may end up on the universal service, while others may be included in CNN’s main television network.
Commenting on the decision to stop CNN+, Discovery’s streaming boss J.B. Perrette said, “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.”
The demise of CNN+ may mean the loss of jobs for hundreds of employees. However, Litch revealed that they would continue to get benefits and be paid for the next 90 days while exploring opportunities at CNN, CNN Digital, and elsewhere in the Warner Bros. Discovery family. For employees who can’t get fixed within the company, the CEO has promised a minimum of six months of severance.
An agent for one of the talk show hosts affected by this development admitted that Warner Bro. Discovery has made a great effort to reabsorb the hosts.
While Litch praised the work already done by the CNN+ team and assured them it was no fault of theirs the service was closing, one of the attendants at the meeting said the news was shocking. The unnamed staffer said, “At first, people were really freaking out. And then, toward the end of the meeting, it just turned to sadness. Every team was just huddling with each other.”
Perrette was blunter and blamed the previous management teams at CNN and WarnerMedia for continuing with the service’s launch despite the impending merger. CNN+ launched only two weeks before the merger was finalized. He said some parts of the ugly situation were avoidable, although the two teams were not legally allowed to communicate.
Warner Bros. Discovery may be able to do little to save the situation as it is under enormous debt due to the merger.
Meanwhile, the news of the departure of the executive vice president in charge of CNN+ and all of CNN’s digital businesses, Andrew Morse, broke at the same meeting. Morse worked closely with the former CEOs of CNN and WarnerMedia but is leaving the company after a transition period. Morse commented, “As the company enters an exciting period of change, it’s clear that the vision the new leadership has for the future is different than the one we’ve had. That’s OK. That’s all part of change.”