CNN+ shutting down
CNN is shutting down its paid streaming service just weeks after it launched, the company announced on Thursday.
Variety first reported that Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD), the network’s newly formed parent company, is expected to provide details to staffers on Thursday.
Incoming network President Chris Licht called an all-hands meeting among CNN+ staffers for noon to discuss the decision, The New York Times reported.
The service will shut down on April 30, just one month after it launched.
The decision to shutter the streaming news and features vertical was made based on Licht’s recommendation, CNBC reported.
“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,” Licht said in a memo to staff obtained by The Hill.
“Let me be clear: this move is in no way a reflection of the talented and hardworking people who poured their heart and soul into building and flawlessly launching CNN+ in a very short period of time. It also is not a reflection of the quality of the talent and content of CNN+, some of which will migrate to CNN’s programming or some of the company’s other networks,” he added.
In a statement on Thursday morning, Warner Bros. Discovery said CNN+ customers will receive prorated refunds of subscription fees.
“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,” said J.B. Perrette, chief executive officer and president of global streaming for the company.
The reported shuttering of the streaming platform follows several reports of a sluggish start among early subscribers and rumors of upcoming cuts to the project’s budget by WarnerMedia Discovery.
The launch and quick scrapping of CNN+ comes just weeks after WarnerMedia’s sale to Discovery and the ousting of former President Jeff Zucker. Former WarnerMedia head Jason Kilar departed the company soon after the sale and Licht was hired by Discovery executives along with a host of new leaders to oversee the new media conglomerate.
Earlier this week, CNN played down reports of a stumbling start to its multimillion-dollar investment, saying it was pleased with how the launch has gone and dismissing early reports suggesting the new venture is in trouble as premature.
“After only three weeks of being available to customers, CNN+ is one of the top news subscription services on the market,” a spokesperson for the network told The Hill on Tuesday. “We remain very happy with CNN+’s performance to date and are proud of what our teams have built.”
Journalist Kasie Hunt, who left NBC News to take a show on CNN+, said in a tweet on Thursday her job “for the foreseeable future” will be to help staffers who were laid off to get new jobs.
In a follow-up memo on Thursday, Licht said staffers at CNN+ will continue to be paid and receive benefits for 90 days after the service shuts down. If those employees don’t find another job at WBD within six months, they will receive at least six months’ severance, depending on the length of their service.
Updated at 2:10 p.m.