CNN+ subscription streaming news service launches

FILE PHOTO: The CNN logo stands outside the venue of the second Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidates debate, in the Fox Theater in Detroit
FILE PHOTO: The CNN logo stands outside the venue of the second Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidates debate, in the Fox Theater in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., July 30, 2019. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

March 29, 2022

By Dawn Chmielewski

(Reuters) -CNN launched its streaming news service CNN+ on Tuesday with a mix of familiar faces such as Anderson Cooper and Chris Wallace, original series and new features like the “Interview Club,” where viewers pose their own questions to experts.

The cable news pioneer is seeking to capitalize on the confluence of two trends, the rising popularity of streaming video and growth of digital subscriptions at major news organizations. With its acquisition of “The Athletic,” The New York Times in February reported it had surpassed 10 million subscribers, the majority of whom are digital-only subscribers.

“CNN+ is the most important initiative that CNN launched since Ted Turner founded the network 42 years ago,” Andrew Morse, chief digital officer for CNN Worldwide who oversees the new streaming service, said in an interview with Reuters.

The launch comes just days ahead of the anticipated closing of the sale of CNN parent WarnerMedia to Discovery Inc. Chris Licht, the executive producer of “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” on CBS, will become chairman and chief executive of CNN Global in May.

The subscription service made its debut in the United States on Amazon Fire TV and on Android and Apple devices, and it costs $5.99 a month. Those who subscribe within the first four weeks receive a 50% discount permanently until they stop subscribing.

The cable news pioneer won’t re-purpose its newscasts online, as services like NBCUniversal’s Peacock does, which provides viewers with on-demand access to the “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt.”

The network also provides NBC News NOW, a free streaming network that provides live breaking news coverage. Its cable news unit, MSNBC, plans to expand streaming this spring with a dedicated hub on Peacock.

CNN+ will offer a combination of live, on-demand and interactive programming, with an emphasis on original content.

Former NPR “All Things Considered” host Audie Cornish will be doing weekly in-depth interviews, and CNN chief media correspondent Brian Stelter will offer daily installments of his “Reliable Sources” email newsletter and Sunday show.

CNN+ will feature original series including “The Murdochs: Empire of Influence,” based on Jonathan Mahler and Jim Rutenberg’s New York Times Magazine article about the legacy of media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

“There is a major opportunity for news organizations to capture an audience that they’re not connecting with,” said Christy Tanner, the former general manager of CBS News Digital.

(Reporting by Dawn Chmielewski in Los Angeles; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)