The writing has been on the walls for the past week following the merger of WarnerMedia and Discovery, but on Thursday, the newly merged Warner Bros. Discovery announced that they would sunset their fledgling news streamer CNN+ effective at the end of the month on April 30. Variety was the first outlet to report the news.
“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,” incoming Chairman and CEO of CNN Worldwide Chris Licht said in a statement. “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.”
According to WBD’s press release, subscribers “will receive prorated refunds of subscription fees.”
Launched in the final weeks before Discovery officially acquired WarnerMedia, the service struggled to find traction and reports indicate that Discovery executives were unhappy that the launch was not delayed until after the merger was finalized.
In addition, CNN also announced that Andrew Morse, Executive Vice President, Chief Digital Officer of CNN Worldwide and Head of CNN+, has decided to leave the company, effective following a transition period.
The news comes just two days after reports that Warner Bros. Discovery had eliminated the service's external marketing budget and replaced longtime CNN CFO Brad Ferrer.
When the service launched in late March, CNN had already invested $300 million in the streamer, including recruiting big-name talent from Fox News, MSNBC, and NPR. With the plan for WBD to bundle and then merge discovery+ and HBO Max, it is unclear if any of CNN+’s original content will live on in the combined service, or perhaps on the CNN website supported by advertising. However, it is likely that the network’s archive of original documentaries will find a home on the company’s unified streaming service.
Following the announcement, a number of CNN+ anchors, journalists, and staffers began sharing their thoughts on social media:
The journalists I have been privileged to work with on CNN Plus are world class— Kasie Hunt (@kasie) April 21, 2022
I am so incredibly proud to be able to call them colleagues
If your organization would like a chance to benefit from their talents, my DMs are open
This is *my* job for the foreseeable future
Let me just say I’m very proud of the work I’ve done at CNN+, I work with world class journalists and we have poured our heart and soul into creating content that we’re extremely proud of.— Erika Ryan (@erikapryan) April 21, 2022