Discovery executives want CNN+ to be focused on hard news. CNN executives want CNN+ to showcase experimental content that compliments its cable counterpart. Those competing visions for CNN's new streaming service, now under parent company Warner Bros. Discovery, may be killing CNN+ before it has a chance to find an audience. The company has suspended marketing for the service and has laid off CNN's chief financial officer.
That’s according to Axios, whose sources said that the rift has botched the outlet’s path to profitability, as executives disagree about how to spend more than $1 billion in capital set aside for the streaming service.
The issue is that CNN launched CNN+ as the Warner Bros. Discovery merger was being finalized, and the two parts of the newly formed company didn't communicate their differences of opinion ahead of time. CNN executives want CNN+ to have a distinctly different menu of content than the live-TV version, and began developing the product before the merger was finalized. Discovery executives think some CNN+ content could fold into the CNN app while other material could live on HBO Max, which Discovery considers its flagship streaming service.
Since the merger last month, Discovery+ and HBO Max appear to be on a path toward becoming a bundled Netflix killer. With so many streaming services for consumers to choose from, Warner Bros. Discovery's main challenge is keeping subscribers from canceling after their favorite show is over. According to the Axios report, Discovery executives see CNN+ as just a feature that would make a larger streaming service stronger — but not as a standalone success.
If CNN+ flames out soon, this would be a particularly hard fall: The service launched just three weeks ago. According to Axios, CNN+ has 150,000 subscribers so far, with a goal of reaching 2 million this year and 15 to 18 million over four years.A spokesperson for CNN+ did not respond to requests for comment.