Commentary

Is CNN+ Start More Of A CNN 'Less' Or CNN 'Even'?

Has CNN+ totally misfired -- right at the start?

Many would point to a rough and somewhat rapid transition that came from the merger that has resulted in Warner Bros. Discovery -- which started this week.

Adding in the somewhat shocking, quick departure of Jeff Zucker, and Chris Licht, yet to start, as the head of CNN.

An early indication came from a CNBC report, which says CNN+ is only averaging less than 10,000 users a day. The sources here probably came from inside CNN -- those who might have key knowledge of CNN+ server activity -- we are guessing.

Perhaps one of the biggest issues could be the projected $1 billion content and structural investment over its first four years. That could be dramatically cut.

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So far, the report says total spending on CNN+ has been around $300 million.

To an extent, this speaks to the new owner of Discovery Inc. -- and not just that it has taken on a huge and very costly $43 billion acquisition in WarnerMedia, where analysts are closely eyeing whether it can maintain its synergy in a cost-savings plan -- but for Discovery's historically tight control over capital expenditures at its TV and media businesses.

CNN+, as a streaming service, also needs to walk a tightrope when it comes to content.

It won't look to offer much live TV news content yet. That is left to its cable TV network, where pay TV distributors pay high affiliate fees for that content. CNN doesn't want to ruffle their feathers.

Instead, CNN+ offers up more lifestyle- and news magazine-type content -- longer, more in-depth, somewhat introspective news content.

The on-air TV marketing alludes to this. And yet, consumers may just focus on what the “CNN” brand means to them: a live TV news network. Perhaps those consumers are active cord-cutters looking to replace all kinds of legacy-based TV networks.

And, if that isn’t all, it isn't "free." The app costs $5.99 a month for a CNN brand that doesn’t give you 24/7 live news. And there is a current 4-week promotion at $2.99/month -- as long as you keep CNN+ around forever.

CNN+ has been expected to bring in around two million subscribers in the U.S. in the service's first year and 15 million to 18 million subscribers after four years. Two weeks after its start, those numbers have yet to be disclosed.

But right now, it appears that CNN+ isn't plus enough.

1 comment about "Is CNN+ Start More Of A CNN 'Less' Or CNN 'Even'?".
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  1. Michael Greeson, Founder, Aluma Insights from A, April 14, 2022 at 8:10 p.m.

    "It won't look to offer much live TV news content yet ... CNN doesn't want to ruffle their feathers."

    Precisely why it is unlikely to be successful as a $6/month SVOD. CNN is not The Food Network. WarnerMedia had a chance to launch a reasonably-priced live news SVOD and missed the boat by leaning into originals. That's not enough to justify the price. The addition of "yet" above speaks to this reality.

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