“@CNNplus employees bracing for layoffs possibly as soon as May amid projections of lackluster sales of new streaming channel,” reported Fox Business Network’s Charles Gasparino.
Earlier this week, CNN launched its CNN+ streaming service after months of hyping it and promising prospective subscribers a “front row seat to breaking news, exclusive interviews and in-depth reporting” and programming featuring the likes of former longtime Fox News anchor Chris Wallace. As far as CNN is concerned, he is the star attraction on the new platform.
It’s all happening pic.twitter.com/VRGx5LnHzZ
— Chris Cillizza (@ChrisCillizza) March 29, 2022
Unfortunately for the struggling news network, they aren’t even a week into their paid content venture, yet there are already signs that it’s off to a very rocky start.
For starters, people already subscribed to CNN’s breaking news email alerts received a promotional email from CNN+ Tuesday which noted they were already offering “50% off for life” subscriptions, where the current $5.99 a month rate would be chopped in half to $2.99:
CNN+ already running a "50% off for life" special. LOL. pic.twitter.com/9ErVaTQslh
— Sister Toldjah 😁 (@sistertoldjah) March 29, 2022
As my editor @SmoosieQ adroitly asked, ''Is this a deal, or a sentence?!''
This seems to be a severe price cut before even going to market. There must be some internals showing muted interest. pic.twitter.com/zzEK49MBv9
— Brad Slager 🍸🥃🍺🎙 – Most Certainly A Biologist! (@MartiniShark) March 29, 2022
Worse still for CNN+ are reports that layoffs are already being projected unless the subscriber counts take a dramatic turn for the better:
Breaking: @CNNplus employees bracing for layoffs possibly as soon as May amid projections of lackluster sales of new streaming channel; CNN employees say new streaming channel could be merged into larger @discoveryplus as early as May unless subscriptions pick up 130 @FoxBusiness
— Charles Gasparino (@CGasparino) March 30, 2022
In response to that tweet, CNN’s strategic comms guy Matt Dornic did his best Baghdad Bob impersonation by suggesting things were going according to plan:
For the record, we are VERY happy with the launch of CNN+ and are only bracing for a long run of success.
— Matt Dornic (@mdornic) March 30, 2022
That prompted this hilarious exchange where the CNN+ “Help” account on Twitter responded to Dornic in a since-deleted tweet:
— Jerry Dunleavy (@JerryDunleavy) March 30, 2022
As for the programming itself, CNN’s resident chief media hall monitor Brian Stelter was excited to start things off on CNN+ by interviewing the original anchors who kicked off CNN decades ago – Dave Walker and Lois Hart, who are married. But in an awkward moment, Walker noted how he now frequently “yells” at the news channel he once worked for, with all the opinion programming apparently being at the root of his discontent:
After announcing that they both still watch “all the time” like “everybody,” Walker disclosed that major difference: “I used to anchor at CNN, now I just yell at CNN.” “Everybody does that too, right,” Hart said as she laughed.
[Walker]: “And I think, as cable news evolved and more completion came into the fray, you had more opinion, particularly in the evening hours. And I would say that’s the major difference now.”
“But maybe with the new ownership that may revert to more just basic news coverage,” Walker hoped, likely citing reports that incoming network boss Chris Licht has said he wants CNN to return to “hard news” with less “red-hot liberal opining.”
On CNN+, one of the network's first anchors, Dave Walker says CNN has gone from "99% news content" and only a few evening "talk shows," but now it has "more opinion."
"Maybe with the new ownership that may revert to more just basic news coverage, I don't know." pic.twitter.com/IOnNLuSjXF
— Nicholas Fondacaro (@NickFondacaro) March 30, 2022
One of the main points made by critics of CNN months ahead of the launch of CNN+ was how it was an odd decision by CNN to launch a paid subscription service when they could barely bring in viewers to their cable channel, especially now that they don’t have former President Trump to kick around like they used to. If current reporting on the struggles at CNN+ bears out, it will make CNN+’s debut one of the most spectacular fails in the history of paid streaming services.
We’ll keep you posted on future developments. Stay tuned.
— Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym “Sister Toldjah” and can be reached via Twitter. —DONATE
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