‘MediaBuzz’ host Howard Kurtz examines why CNN+ came to such an abrupt end on ‘Special Report.’
None of the liberal networks drew any attention to the dramatic implosion of CNN+, which debuted just weeks ago.
Warner Bros. Discovery shocked the media landscape on Thursday by announcing it is pulling the plug on CNN’s streaming service following reports of a disappointing launch.
CNN+ is the first major casualty following the mega-merger of WarnerMedia and Discovery. The streaming service reportedly had a whopping $300 million price tag that gave numerous low-rated CNN stars programs like Jake Tapper’s book club, Anderson Cooper’s parenting show, an Oprah-style talk show from Don Lemon and a daily program from Brian Stelter.
Big names outside of CNN were even recruited to boost the appeal of CNN+ like Chris Wallace, Kasie Hunt, Rex Chapman, and Jemele Hill.
However, CNN’s gigantic business blunder did not receive a second of attention from its direct competitor MSNBC nor did it receive any coverage on ABC, CBS and NBC’s evening newscasts, according to Grabien transcripts.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – APRIL 21: An advertisement for CNN+ is displayed in Manhattan on April 21, 2022 in New York City. Only three weeks after its launch, CNN has announced that it’s new streaming service is already planning to shut down. CNN+ had attracted well known names in media and entertainment to its line-up, which looked to compete with other streaming services and to appeal to a younger audience.
(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
This isn’t the first time the liberal networks circled the wagons on behalf of CNN. In December, none of them acknowledged the ousting of CNN producer John Griffin, who was accused of child sex crimes.
MSNBC, in particular, has a lengthy history of turning a blind eye toward CNN’s woes. The Peacock network completely avoided the downfall of CNN president Jeff Zucker, who was allegedly forced out for failing to disclose a consensual relationship with a deputy executive but was revealed to have aided now-ousted New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the early months of the coronavirus pandemic.
Also getting no attention is the brewing legal battle between CNN and its former star anchor Chris Cuomo.
Notably, MSNBC did address the breaking news of Cuomo’s firing in December after having avoided his suspension stemmed from revelations from the New York Attorney General’s investigation into his ousted governor brother. At the time, CNN alluded to “additional information” the network had learned. Days later, The New York Times reported it was a “sexual misconduct” allegation from a “former junior colleague at another network.”
Chris Cuomo, Allison Gollust and Jeff Zucker could cause significant problem for a looming merger between WarnerMedia and Discovery.
MSNBC, as well as ABC, CBS and NBC, previously ignored the sexual harassment allegation made by veteran TV producer Shelley Ross, who alleged in a New York Times guest essay in September that Cuomo grabbed her buttock at a 2005 event as ABC colleagues. Ross produced the email he had sent to her apologizing for the incident.
CNN Worldwide CEO Chris Licht issued a memo to staff on Thursday announcing the newborn streaming service was being terminated effective April 30.
“As we become Warner Bros. Discovery, CNN will be strongest as part of WBD’s streaming strategy which envisions news as an important part of a compelling broader offering along with sports, entertainment, and nonfiction content,” Licht wrote. “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.”
“This is not a decision about quality; we appreciate all of the work, ambition and creativity that went into building CNN+, an organization with terrific talent and compelling programming. But our customers and CNN will be best served with a simpler streaming choice,” Licht added.
CNN Worldwide CEO Chris Licht announced that CNN+ would shut down. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
(Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
The decision comes after widespread speculation that CNN’s new parent company, Warner Bros. Discovery, would scale back or eliminate the service after a long-planned merger between Discovery and WarnerMedia was completed earlier this month. Many industry insiders have wondered why CNN even launched the service when the merger was looming.
On March 28, CNN threw a swanky launch party for CNN+ on the eve of its highly publicized premiere. Executives, on-air personalities and reporters who are friendly to CNN attended the soiree at an event space located on the 101st floor of Hudson Yards, overlooking Manhattan. WarnerMedia and Discovery completed the merger on April 8.
CNN+ customers will receive prorated refunds of subscription fees, the company announced.
The failed service was the brainchild of former CNN president Jeff Zucker and former WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar, who are no longer with the company.
A spokesperson for Zucker declined comment when reached by Fox News Digital.
Embattled CNN boss Jeff Zucker walked away from the liberal network on Wednesday after failing to disclose a “consensual relationship” with a CNN staffer. (Getty Images)
CNN+ launched a month ago with little fanfare and was quickly mocked when leaked subscription data that revealed startlingly low numbers.
CNN executive vice president and chief digital officer Andrew Morse, who oversaw the service, will exit the company.
“We are grateful to Andrew for his significant contributions to CNN Digital and CNN+ over the years,’’ Licht said. “He and his team created a quality slate of rich and compelling content and helped produce and distribute CNN’s journalism around the world on a variety of platforms. We appreciate Andrew and everyone’s hard work and dedication.’’
Morse did not immediately respond to a request for additional comment.
CNN named Alex MacCallum, current head of product and the general manager of CNN+, as the new head of CNN Digital.
Fox News’ Brian Flood contributed to this report.