Warner Bros. Discovery Shutters CNN+ Three Weeks After Launch

By Mollie Cahillane 

After less than a month, fledgling streaming service CNN+ is no more.

The Warner Bros. Discovery-owned platform will cease operations on April 30 after first debuting on March 29.

“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, 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,” he continued. “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.”

Licht hasn’t officially started in his role at CNN yet. His first day is May 2.

In addition, Andrew Morse, evp and chief digital officer of CNN and the head of CNN+, is leaving the company. Alex MacCallum, head of product/general manager, will now take over CNN Digital.

The company said that CNN+ customers would receive prorated refunds of subscription fees.

The move comes after Warner Bros. Discovery suspended all external marketing for CNN+ earlier this week.

The company also laid off CNN chief financial officer Brad Ferrer, replacing him with Neil Chugani, Discovery’s current CFO for streaming and international, as part of a broader financial restructuring.

The streaming service currently has around 150,000 subscribers and charges $5.99 a month, or $59.99 a year. CNN’s original plan was for the service to become profitable in four years with $1 billion invested. The company already spent $300 million on CNN+, including roughly $100 million on marketing.

But Warner Bros. Discovery, which finalized its merger earlier this month, didn’t view CNN+ in the same way that WarnerMedia did. Though WarnerMedia hoped CNN+ would further the CNN brand in the digital age, executives at Discovery had a different set of priorities. However, J.B. Perrette, CEO and president of global streaming and interactive entertainment, a former Discovery exec, did say that CNN will continue to play a role in the company’s direct-to-consumer plans.

“Consumers are the center of our strategy,’’ J.B. Perrette, CEO and president of global streaming and interactive entertainment, said in a statement. “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. 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 news comes hours after AT&T announced its quarterly earnings, the final time WarnerMedia will appear in the report. Warner Bros. Discovery will host its first earnings call next week.