Warner Bros. Discovery’s decision to include many of CNN’s marquee shows within the CNN Max streaming hub is not being well received by DirecTV.
The satellite pay-TV provider, once a corporate cousin of CNN when they were both owned by AT&T, stated in a letter to WBD brass that the programming on the new streaming channel risks violating the contract between their businesses.
CNN debuted its new streaming hub, CNN Max—which is available within WBD’s Max subscription streaming service—on Sept. 27 and borrowed heavily from its existing linear networks, CNN U.S. and CNN International, to build its programming. Many of these networks’ most popular shows, including CNN U.S.’s morning and primetime lineup, can be streamed on CNN Max.
The 24/7 streaming hub, which is still in beta form, also offers users additional access to news content and CNN Originals.
The letter, first reported by The New York Times, is the first sign that pay-TV providers are displeased with how WBD is stocking the CNN Max hub.
DirecTV and other cable and satellite TV providers pay millions of dollars to distribute CNN linear channels. So, why should they continue to pay now that similar programming is running on the CNN Max streaming channel?
So far, DirecTV is the only distributor to have launched a formal complaint, but it likely won’t be the last.
Unlike its short-lived predecessor, CNN+, which relied on mostly original complimentary news content, CNN Max’s weekday schedule contains four hours of original news content, with remaining hours filled by CNN’s domestic and international programming. The weekend line-up of CNN Max is a mix of linear programming and CNN Original programming.
For its part, WBD, in a statement responding to the DirecTV’s letter, said that the company “maintains strong and meaningful relationships with our affiliate partners,” adding, “our partners are aware of and understand our rationale with Max, which is to reach new audiences.”
The recent battle and settlement between Charter and The Walt Disney Co. over Disney’s linear networks and streaming channels shows that pay-TV distributors are no longer afraid of confronting media companies over the high fees they pay to carry their programming. Previously, this programming was exclusive to them, but it is now frequently used to build and boost direct-to-consumer (DTC) products offered by these media companies.