CNN Gets Canceled

WarnerMedia, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

People aren’t watching CNN.

Parent company Warner Bros Discovery pulls plug on CNN’s much-hyped new venture
Warner Bros. Discovery has canceled CNN+ after the network’s newly launched streaming service failed to gain traction with viewers. It will close its doors on April 30.

Chris Licht, CNN Worldwide CEO, said in a statement, “As we become Warner Bros. Discovery, CNN will be strongest as part of WBD’s streaming strategy, which envisions news as an important part of a compelling broader offering along with sports, entertainment, and nonfiction content,”

He continues, “We have therefore decided to cease operations of CNN+ and focus our investment on CNN’s core news-gathering operations and in further building CNN Digital,” “This is not a decision about quality; we appreciate all of the work, ambition, and creativity that went into building CNN+, an organization with terrific talent and compelling programming. But our customers and CNN will be best served with a simpler streaming choice.”

The decision follows widespread suspicion that CNN’s new parent company, Warner Bros. Discovery, might scale back or cancel the service following the completion of a long-planned merger between Discovery and WarnerMedia earlier this month. Many industry insiders have questioned why CNN launched the program, given the impending merger.
On the eve of CNN+’s highly publicized premiere, CNN staged a fancy launch party on March 28. CNN-friendly executives, on-air personalities, and reporters gathered at an event space on the 101st floor of Hudson Yards, overlooking Manhattan. On April 8, WarnerMedia and Discovery finalized their merger.

The company also announced that CNN+ customers would receive prorated refunds of subscription fees.

Former CNN president Jeff Zucker and former WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar, who are no longer with the firm, devised the unsuccessful program.

When Fox News Digital reached out to Zucker, he refused to comment.

CNN+ was stacked with lefty analysts like Rex Chapman and Jemele Hill. However, Licht and Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav were supposed to push CNN away from the dominant far-left programming strategy during the Zucker regime. Former Fox News host Chris Wallace, NPR presenter Audie Cornish, former NBC reporter Kasie Hunt, and actress and Democratic activist Eva Longoria were also featured.

According to reports, the former management team spent $100 million on development costs and had around 500 staff working on the service. The Associated Press reported that “some CNN+ content will wind up on other company networks,” and the streaming service’s employees “will get opportunities to apply for jobs elsewhere inside Warner Bros. Discovery.”

A month ago, CNN+ launched with minimal fanfare and was instantly criticized when subscriber data indicated amazingly low numbers.

When original CNN anchor Dave Walker joined the inaugural edition of Zucker loyalist Brian Stelter’s new streaming show and declared he wasn’t thrilled with the network’s current state on the first day the new service was active, a guest on the platform criticized CNN itself for drifting away from straight news.

Walker said, “I used to anchor at CNN, and now I just yell at CNN,” “I think originally, it was pretty much 99 percent news content … As cable news evolved and more competition came into the fray, you had more opinion, particularly in the evening hours. And I would say that’s a major difference now. But maybe with the new ownership, that may revert to more just basic news coverage.”

CNN executive vice president and chief digital officer Andrew Morse, who oversaw the service, will exit.

“We are grateful to Andrew for his significant contributions to CNN Digital and CNN+ over the years,” Licht said. “He and his team created a quality slate of rich and compelling content and helped produce and distribute CNN’s journalism around the world on various platforms. We appreciate Andrew, and everyone’s hard work and dedication.”
Morse said it was “an honor to work alongside the world’s best journalists these past nine years.”

“I am a great believer that change is critical – for individuals and organizations. As the company enters an exciting period of change, it is a logical time to make a change for myself. I’ll always be rooting for CNN,” Morse said.

Morse did not immediately respond to a request for additional comment.
CNN named Alex MacCallum, current head of product and the general manager of CNN+, as the new head of CNN Digital.