Just three weeks after its rollout, CNN’s heavily publicized streaming platform CNN+ is shutting down.
Warner Bros. Discovery, the new parent company of CNN, confirmed the news today.
“While today’s decision is incredibly difficult, it is the right one for the long-term success of CNN,” incoming CNN president Chris Licht wrote in a memo.
The service is slated to cease programming on April 30, less than a month after its March 29 launch. Current CNN+ subscribers “will receive prorated refunds of subscription fees,” the company said in a statement.
The announcement comes after news began circulating that the streaming service was struggling to lure in subscribers. Last week, a report by competitor CNBC suggested that CNN+ was off to a tepid start, attracting fewer than 10,000 viewers a day.
More than a year in the making, CNN’s foray into the streaming game was heralded as a historic development for the network and one meant to usher the broadcaster into the digital age. It invested hundreds of millions into the platform and conducted a months-long marketing blitz touting the service, hired hundreds of new employees and tapped top talent to host programs, including “Fox News Sunday” anchor Chris Wallace, NBC’s Kasie Hunt and former NPR co-host Audie Cornish.
The service was intended to complement CNN’s TV broadcast, featuring live daily programming from CNN staples such as Kate Bolduan, Sara Sidner, Brian Stelter and Wolf Blitzer, along with access to CNN’s library of original content. CNN+ did not feature CNN’s regular live programming, due to the current deals it has with cable distributors.
Announcing its launch last year, CNN chief digital officer Andrew Morse had referred to CNN+ as an “interactive community” intended to give subscribers the ability “to engage directly with our talent and experts about the issues that matter most to them.” Morse, who was in charge of the streaming platform, will now leave the company after a transition period, according to CNN.
The news also comes less than a month after CNN’s former parent company, WarnerMedia, officially merged with Discovery to form Warner Bros. Discovery.
A recording of a CNN staff meeting today obtained by the New York Times allegedly captures Licht likening CNN+’s closure to a homeowner deciding he doesn’t like the house he’d already contracted a builder to make.
“Then the new owner came in and said, ‘What a beautiful house! But I need an apartment,’” Licht allegedly said, according to the recording obtained by the New York Times. “And that doesn’t take anything away from this beautiful house you built. I am proud of it, and I am proud of this team, and I am gutted by what this means for you.”
Perhaps another sign of oversaturation in an already-crowded streaming market, Netflix, the world’s largest streaming service, reported this week that it lost subscribers for the first time in more than a decade, causing its stock to fall by 35 percent.