Warner Bros. Discovery has suspended all external marketing and spending for the streaming service CNN+.
In addition, five sources have told Axios that the company has laid off longtime CNN CFO Brad Ferrer as it decides what to do with CNN+ moving forward.
Discovery is frustrated that the service launched before its merger with WarnerMedia, which had controlled CNN.
“Inside CNN, executives think the launch has been successful. Discovery executives disagree,” the report says.
Well, Discovery now runs CNN, so Discovery executives will win that battle.
Discovery does not believe that streaming services built for specific programming can make a profit as a standalone platform.
“Discovery’s experience launching niche subscriptions services, like GolfTV and its Food Network Kitchen App, has informed its strategy to focus on one scaled general entertainment offering around HBO Max, instead of more niche services that have to compete with big apps for subscriber cash,” Axios adds.
As we predicted, Discovery will most likely fold CNN+ into HBO Max at some point, as it did Discovery+.
The flat launch of CNN+ has proven Discovery’s view of niche programming correct thus far. Three weeks in, fewer than 10,000 people are using CNN+ on a daily basis.
Internally, that number is disappointing. On the outside, no one is surprised. The idea of CNN+ never made any sense. Hardly anyone watches CNN, which comes free with a basic cable package. So why would they pay for more CNN?
In many ways, CNN+ is worse than CNN because it doesn’t feature prestigious reporters like Clarissa Ward, but it promotes unpopular talking heads like Brian Stelter, Jemele Hill and Rex Chapman.
It’s clear that CNN+ isn’t going to last in its current form. Discovery will scale back its focus on the service and not re-sign the “talents” former CNN head Jeff Zucker hired strictly for streaming.
That brings us to Chris Wallace. Wallace is reportedly upset with the launch of CNN+ and wants to move to the 9 pm linear television slot previously occupied by Chris Cuomo. And perhaps that’s an option as CNN is considering making the time slot a traditional newscast, not a personality-driven hour as it was previously.
CNN is a mess. Its television network is hemorrhaging viewers, the brand lacks an identity now that Donald Trump is out of office, and talents are unhappy. Now, CNN+ is the biggest failure in streaming history.
We wish CNN well.