CNN+ is just two weeks old, but reports already have the streamer facing potentially significant budget cutbacks, in part due to disappointing early uptake numbers.
The streaming service, which launched on March 29 — just days before the formal close of the WarnerMedia-Discovery merger on April 8 — has drawn fewer than 10,000 daily users thus far, according to CNBC sources.
CNN has yet to release any numbers for the new service, and a spokesperson said the network continues “to be happy with the launch and its progress after only two weeks.”
CNN originally budgeted about $1 billion to build out CNN+ over four years, and has already spent about $300 billion, including marketing, but the slow start could result in “dramatic” cuts in projections and investment, according to Axios sources.
CNN’s projections called for reaching about 2 million CNN+ subscribers in the U.S. in the service’s first year, and 15 million to 18 million over four years, they said.
It has been speculated that CNN+ — which is not a standalone app, but part of a CNN app that also includes access to the network’s TV everywhere experience for pay TV subscribers — will at some point become part of a bundle with HBO Max and ultimately, a combined Max-Discovery streaming offering.
CNN+’s actual fate will not be clear until after Chris Licht, who has been tapped by the new Warner Bros. Discovery entity as CNN’s new president, assumes that role on May 1.
In February, David Zaslav, CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery, told CNBC that he had yet to see a business review laying out “what CNN+ is going to be and how it’s going to be offered,” and that the service’s performance would determine decisions about what direction to take.
This week, CNN+ did announce positive news, in the form of a distribution deal with Roku that could possibly do much to boost its user base.