CNN+ To Shut Down Less Than 5 Weeks After Launching

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Nicole Silverio Media Reporter
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CNN+ is shutting down after its launching just three weeks ago, the network announced in a Wednesday statement.

The platform is set to end operations by April 30, the network said in a statement. Andrew Morse, CNN’s chief digital officer and head of the streaming platform, decided to step down from his position.

“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,” said Chris Licht, Chairman and CEO of CNN Worldwide.  “We have therefore made the decision 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.”

Hundreds of CNN+ employees could potentially lose their jobs. Licht said CNN+ employees will continue to be paid and receive company benefits for the next 90 days, then be handed a six-month severance, he said.

The platform braced themselves for layoffs at the moment of its launching due to low subscription numbers, which caused the network’s parent company, WarnerMedia, to complete its merger with DiscoveryPlus, now known as Warner Bros. Discovery. The platform was slated to lose hundreds of millions of dollars in investments and projections.

Nearly $300 million had been spent on the service, losing $9,375,000 a day, Axios previously reported.

Some CNN+ programming is expected to run on Warner Bros. Discovery streaming service, while others will likely go to CNN’s live television programming, according to CNN.

Discovery’s streaming boss J.B. Perrette said that parts of the outcome was “avoidable,” expressing frustration with the previous leadership led by former CNN President Jeff Zucker and former WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar, CNN reported. He said in a Thursday statement that CNN’s brand will play a major role in the company’s streaming.

“In a complex streaming market, consumers want simplicity and an all-in service which provides a better experience and more value than stand-alone offerings, and, for the company, a more sustainable business model to drive our future investments in great journalism and storytelling,” he said. “We have very exciting opportunities ahead in the streaming space and CNN, one of the world’s premier reputational assets, will play an important role there.’’

The platform had under 10,000 active daily users in its first month, though executives expected those numbers to reach near 2 million in the first year and 15-18 million in four years.

The platform hosted several of the network’s hosts, including Anderson Cooper, Poppy Harlow and Chris Wallace, who left Fox News in December to host a CNN+ show.