CNN Plans to Offer Sub-Based Streaming Service Next Year

WarnerMedia’s CNN is slated to launch a new subscription-based streaming service, CNN+, early next year. The service, which will co-exist with CNN’s current TV networks, will feature eight to 12 hours of live programming per day. WarnerMedia News and Sports chair Jeff Zucker, who is also president of CNN Worldwide, noted that, “CNN invented cable news in 1980, defined online news in 1995 and now is taking an important step in expanding what news can be by launching a direct-to-consumer streaming subscription service” in Q1 2022.

CNN reports that chief digital officer Andrew Morse will be the executive in charge of CNN+. It notes that, “CNN can’t just sell its current live programming via streaming due to lucrative and long-term deals with cable distributors … so [it] is effectively building a parallel track, right next to its existing TV track, to serve both existing cable subscribers who want additional programming and customers who don’t have cable at all.”

Morse said the service will be comprised of two other components in addition to the live programming: original series — some new and some from the networks’ archives — and “interactive community.” The latter will allow subscribers “to engage directly with our talent and experts about the issues that matter most to them.”

CNN+ will roll out first in the U.S. and, later, in other countries. The subscription fees and additional countries have not yet been announced. Morse, who said the shows will be led by “some of CNN’s most prominent talent, as well as several new faces … also emphasized that the daily programming will be differentiated from what CNN already produces on TV.”

“It’s not going to be a news headline service,” noting that programming could be “more deep dives” into topics such as “climate change; space and science; and race and identity.”

Although CNN is one of the world’s largest news operations, with 4,000 employees, it will be “entering a crowded environment of streaming news” including broadcast networks with free streaming channels. It will also face competition from text-based subscription services run by The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

Morse said CNN+ will launch “focused on video” but that other formats such as podcasts will be under consideration later. Morse said he thinks that “there’s a really substantial audience opportunity for us … given our brand reach; given our credibility; given our trust; given the fact that we reach 290 million across linear and digital platforms globally.”

Deadline reports that CNN Worldwide head of product Alex MacCallum will be general manager of CNN+, “with oversight of product development, customer acquisition and marketing, strategy and growth and revenue operations.”

CNN said the new streaming service is aimed at “CNN superfans, news junkies and fans of quality non-fiction programming … [and] reportedly will be tapping NBC News and MSNBC personality Kasie Hunt as one of its on-screen hosts.”