‘Uniquely shi**y situation’: CNN reports its own epic failure as it shuts down much-hyped streaming service

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(Video Credit: Fox News)

CNN+, the brainchild of disgraced former CNN media executive Jeff Zucker, is officially shuttering itself just 30 days after launch, only garnering 150,000 subscribers when the goal was over 2 million in its disastrous debut.

Variety was the first to report on Warner Bros. Discovery shutting down the service. According to the network, CNN+ customers “will receive prorated refunds of subscription fees.”

The decision was made by new management following the merger of WarnerMedia with Discovery earlier this month according to CNN Business in a piece written by reporter Oliver Darcy and CNN host Brian Stelter. Discovery CEO David Zaslav reportedly plans to house all of the company’s brands under one streaming service. Some of CNN+’s programming may be resurrected via that service. Other programming will be hosted on CNN’s primary network.

“In a complex streaming market, consumers want simplicity and an all-in service which provides a better experience and more value than stand-alone offerings, and, for the company, a more sustainable business model to drive our future investments in great journalism and storytelling,” Discovery’s streaming boss J.B. Perrette said via a statement.

“We have very exciting opportunities ahead in the streaming space and CNN, one of the world’s premier reputational assets, will play an important role there,” he remarked.

In a meeting held Thursday afternoon, Chris Licht, the incoming CEO of CNN told staffers about the decision and didn’t pull any punches in doing so, calling it a “uniquely shitty situation.”

“This decision is in line with WBD’s broader direct-to-consumer strategy,” Licht noted.

The nixing of CNN+ could cost hundreds of staffers their jobs. An internal memo sent out by Licht announced that “all CNN+ employees will continue to be paid and receive benefits for the next 90 days to explore opportunities at CNN, CNN Digital and elsewhere in the Warner Bros. Discovery family.”

He claimed that “this was an incredibly successful launch” but simply didn’t fit in with the merged company’s plans.

“It is not your fault that you had the rug pulled out from underneath you,” he told employees.

Many will find jobs elsewhere in the company. Those who don’t will receive six months of severance pay.

Perrette also vented some frustration over Zucker’s apparent lack of leadership at CNN during the meeting.

“Some of this was avoidable,” he claimed, but “prior leadership decided to just keep going” with the planned March launch of CNN+ even though the merger was looming in two weeks.

Alex MacCallum, who is the head of product and general manager of CNN+, will now be in charge of CNN Digital and work with Licht “to determine a leadership strategy going forward,” according to the press release.

CNN+ had been promoted by the network as the “most significant launch since Ted Turner founded CNN in 1980.” The company poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the streaming service and stole executives from other networks to work for CNN+. That included Kasie Hunt from NBC News and Chris Wallace from Fox News.


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