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    Friday, April 22, 2022

    CNN Plus Streaming Service Shutdown a Month After Launch

    Three weeks after its launch, CNN's new streaming service is already planning to shut down.

    At sunset on the last Monday of March, CNN stars gathered for a gala on the 101st floor of a Midtown Manhattan skyscraper to celebrate the launch of CNN+, the streaming service that was supposed to take the network into the digital future.

    Ethan Hawke, who directed a film for CNN+, mingled with Anderson Cooper and Carl Bernstein as guests nibbled on miniature lobster rolls and gawked at the dizzying views of the New York City skyline.

    It took three weeks for CNN’s new owners to bring them down to earth.

    The media giant confirmed Thursday Warner Bros. Discovery will shutter the streaming news service on April 30.

    In a statement Thursday, CNN Worldwide Chairman and CEO Chris Licht said the network is part of the company's broader streaming vision, and expects to combine elements of it with a planned merger of HBO Max and Discovery+, the company's two entertainment-focused streaming services.

    "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," said Licht.

    Andrew Morse, chief digital officer of CNN Worldwide and the head of CNN+, will leave the company following a transition period.

    What is CNN+

    The decision to drop CNN+ marks a stunning reversal for the media giant, who had billed the fledgling service as one of the most important launches since CNN debuted more than 40 years ago. But WarnerMedia, CNN's former parent, was acquired by Discovery on April 8, and the new owner had a different strategic vision for its streaming networks.

    "We’re not just putting news anchors behind desks and have them read off the teleprompter for 24 hours a day," Morse told USA TODAY about how CNN+ would be complementary to the network. But CNN+ offered no live feed of the cable-news service, due to agreements with cable operators, dampening enthusiasm for the service, which had some live talk shows and library content.

    The service launched on March 28 at $5.99 a month, or $59.99 a year. Warner Bros. Discovery said customers will received prorated refunds for subscription fees.

    CNN+ featured a variety of programs including live daily and weekly shows, live news coverage, and original TV shows and movies including the popular "Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown."

    Chris Wallace among top-tier talent recruited for CNN+

    The service featured a variety of programs and recruited top news talent, including former Fox News host Chris Wallace, who hosted "Who's Talking to Chris Wallace?"

    Licht said in a statement the decision to cease operations about CNN+ was not about the quality of the programming.

    "We appreciate all of the work, ambition and creativity that went into building CNN+, an organization with terrific talent and compelling programming," he said. "But our customers and CNN will be best served with a simpler streaming choice."

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