CNN+ Inks Roku Distribution Deal

Nearly two weeks after its official launch, WarnerMedia’s CNN+ streaming service has secured a deal to get the app on Roku.

Being on Roku — the leading connected TV (CTV) platform, with more than 60 million active users as of year-end 2021 — is critical for app launches.

WarnerMedia’s HBO Max’s traction was limited for the first several months after its 2020 launch by the lack of a Roku distribution agreement.

The companies did not disclose agreement terms. As a key CTV gatekeeper, along with Amazon Fire TV, Roku has the clout to negotiate hard for favorable terms for customer data and revenue sharing.

CNN+ has yet to clinch deals with Google TV, Android TV, Samsung smart TVs, Sony Playstation and Microsoft Xbox gaming consoles.

The new CNN+ app is now available through the Roku channel store, with a seven-day free trial.  

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In addition to Roku devices, CNN+ is available on desktop and through the CNN mobile app on Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and iOS and Android phones and tablets. Later this year, it will also be available on the Xfinity X1, Flex and XClass TV platforms, through WarnerMedia’s multi-platform distribution agreement with Comcast.

Consumers who sign up for CNN+ by April 26 are being offered the otherwise $5.99-per-month app for $2.99 per month for the life of their subscriptions. 

The plan for CNN+ has called for eventually adding a lower-priced, ad-supported tier, and offering it as part of a bundle with HBO Max. 

But speculation about how the leadership of the newly formed Warner Bros. Discovery will treat CNN+ has been rampant.  

Rather than being a standalone app, CNN+ also includes access to the existing TV everywhere experience for pay TV subscribers, including the live TV feeds of CNN, CNN International and HLN, plus on-demand content.

CNN+ could be part of an HBO Max bundle or merged into HBO Max, and top management has confirmed that HBO Max and Discovery eventually will be merged into a single streaming offering.

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