That’s right, the cable news channel that, for good or bad, started the 24-hour cable news phenomenon has decided to create a new streaming service it is calling CNN+.
With the number of cable and satellite subscribers declining, and both declining viewer numbers and increased competition from Fox News, MSNBC, and other cable news/opinion channels that are now available on streaming platforms, CNN desperately needs a larger footprint in streaming to ensure its survival.
Jeff Zucker, President of CNN Worldwide, claims that this is the biggest move CNN will make since its Cable News debut in 1980 and the beginning of its online news presence in 1995.
CNN’s decision to move away from the center as a news network and openly tilt its news coverage against former President Donald Trump may have worked in the short-term but its post 2020 Election ratings have plummeted leaving many at the network to wonder if there needs to be a more diverse mix of content; live news, original recorded featured content, and a renewed focus on the issues with the people shaping the future and not just politicians.
CNN+ will clearly be aimed at an audience that does not want non-stop news coverage; which they can always access online 24-7.
Anthony Bourdain would have been ideal for this channel and we hope that the new channel replays his old show and creates a new version to honor his legacy.
What We Know So Far
CNN+ will establish a different structure than it has for its cable/satellite channel service.
CNN+ will be leveraging its worldwide news reach but also hiring new staff, production crews, and on-screen talent. This will enable the new network to create and execute original programming just for the service that will not only include in-depth news, but documentaries, news/education, and travel/lifestyle content.
Here are three key features that are planned for CNN+:
- In the beginning, there are plans to offer live content 8 to 12 hours a day. There is no word yet if that content will be repeated during the rest of the hours, or if it will be filled with traditional news coverage. It is unlikely the service would go dark after 8 or 12 hours.
- The new network will provide access to a library of on-demand content.
- Direct interaction with program hosts is expected to be provided – similar to CNN’s current virtual town hall format.
CNN+ will be a paid subscription service that is separate from the free access (with cable/satellite subscription verification) you can get to CNN’s online news app.
CNN and Warner Media
CNN is owned by WarnerMedia, which in turn also owns HBO Max. CNN has indicated that CNN+ will not become a part of HBO Max. However, depending on how things go, WarnerMedia could, at some point include a “best of CNN+” or “CNN+ spotlight” category in the HBO Max content hub or offer it as part of an HBO Max bundle as a way to promote the service. Keep in mind that this idea is speculation and not being considered at this time.
There is also the task of lining up streaming platforms (Roku, Fire TV, Chromecast/Google TV, Apple TV, etc…) that will want to include the new channel as part of its offerings. However, with CNN’s name that shouldn’t be too difficult, but it is possible that it won’t be available on all those platforms at first (Peacock and HBO Max weren’t offered on many platforms at first).
CNN+ will be offered in the U.S. first, with international branch-outs when they feel the time is right.
Are You Willing To Pay?
With all the other streaming services out there, including some where there may be content overlaps, such as with Discovery+ and Curiosity Stream, how much would you pay to watch the new streaming service? As of now, no price has been set.
For additional perspective, including more on how the new channel will be different than CNN, check out the following report from Variety (includes an audio interview with CNN Worldwide Chief Digital Officer, Andrew Morse).