CNN+, the streaming service hyped by the news network as “one of the most significant developments in the history of CNN,” according to CNN, will cease operations on April 30, a mere month since it launched.
The decision to end CNN+ will go down in history as one of the most expensive failures in media history, with CNN spending a cool $300 million to launch the service.
The writing was on the wall for the streaming service the instant it opened its doors, receiving widespread doubt that it would manage to retain any semblance of viewership due to the broadly unpopular lineup of hosts, including former Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, longtime CNN commentator Fareed Zakaria, and former NPR host Audie Cornish.
CNN+ featured hours of daily live programming and weekly shows.
In addition, CNN+ retained the so-called talent of content thief Rex Chapman, a former basketball player who built a reputation for shoplifting at an Apple store and stealing viral videos, and presenting them as his own content on Twitter.
The decision to shutter the stillborn streaming service was made by CNN’s new owners after its former parent company, WarnerMedia, merged with Discovery to form Warner Bros. Discovery.
According to Axios, the service was abandoned because CNN and its new parent disagreed over the sense of running a subscription-based news streaming service. The plan, according to the report, was for CNN+ to become profitable in four years by investing $1 billion into the service.
“But Discovery thought a separate subscription app for news didn't make sense for its own strategy long-term and worried about the business economics around the launch. CNN had already spent $300 million to launch the service,” Axios reported.
CNN reported the closure of the service, noting that “David Zaslav, the chief executive of Warner Bros. Discovery, has said that he wants to house all of the company's brands under one streaming service. Some CNN+ programming may eventually live on through that service.”
According to CNN, hundreds of CNN+ staffers were notified of the decision in a meeting on Thursday afternoon.
CNN+’s demise just weeks after it launched is a pitiful end to a story that had its ending written before it even began.