Ian Patrick, FISM News
Despite CNN executives claiming they are satisfied with the launch of the CNN+ streaming service, it is reportedly failing to bring in more than 10,000 daily viewers, according to people familiar with the matter who spoke with CNBC.
A CNN spokesperson said they “continue to be happy with the launch and its progress after only two weeks,” but these anonymous sources claim that the streaming service is well underperforming. Launching on March 29 of this year, CNN+ has reportedly drawn in just over 1% of its daily cable network audience which was 773,000 as of January 2022.
Although CNN+ has not released a list of total subscribers as of yet, it goes up against the steep competition. For instance, rival streaming service Disney+ posted over 118 million total subscribers worldwide by the end of 2021 according to Statista. Similar data shows CBS’s Paramount+, another streaming service, posting over 56 million worldwide subscribers during the same time period.
Statista also shows that Peacock, NBC’s streaming service, had 24.5 million active monthly accounts by the end of 2021. Despite trying to lure names from other networks to the platform, such as Kasie Hunt from NBC News and Chris Wallace from Fox News, data shows that CNN+ is falling significantly behind other streaming networks.
Reports of frustration from Chris Wallace have also surfaced with reporter Jon Nicosia tweeting that Wallace is having “daily breakdowns” due to the lackluster launch of CNN+, according to an anonymous source.
SOURCE: Chris Wallace is "having daily breakdowns" over the "miserable launch" of @CNNplus. Wants a "CNN show or is threatening to walk" they go on. "He is having staffers count how many times a day his promo is playing"
— Jon Nicosia (@NewsPolitics) April 12, 2022
Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav, which owns CNN, commented in February of this year that he would wait to see how CNN+ performs before making any decisions on its future. There is speculation that it could be offered in a package with HBO Max and Discovery+ similar to Disney’s streaming bundle of Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ streaming services.
An Axios report from April 12 also shows that Warner Bros. Discovery executives are looking to make some financial cuts, which could impact CNN and CNN+. Axios reporter Sara Fischer writes that CNN executives were expecting to gain “around 2 million subscribers in the U.S. in the service’s first year” as well as a lofty “15-18 million” subscribers in the international market after four years. If cuts do happen these expectations “will need to be dramatically reduced,” Fischer writes.
CNN has struggled after the recent retirement of longtime CEO Jeff Zucker for sexual misconduct and due to confusion over launching CNN+ amid a merger between Discovery and CNN’s parent company WarnerMedia. A source told Axios that this launch decision was made “to stake a claim over the service and the network’s future ahead of the merger.”