Farewell, CNN+. We hardly knew ye.
And it seems there wasn’t a lot of interest in getting to know ye, either.
In what The New York Times called “a stunning and ignominious end to an operation into which CNN had sunk tens of millions of dollars,” it was announced Thursday that CNN+, a streaming service launched less than a month ago, will be kaput as of the end of April.
It’s true that the speed with which the new digital platform collapsed is indeed startling, but the outcome is not terribly surprising. First of all, the rationale for CNN+ always seemed dubious, given the 24/7 ubiquity of the original cable-news channel. Second, the timing of the launch was far from ideal: It occurred as the market for streaming services is fast approaching saturation, if it isn’t there already. (Even powerhouse Netflix acknowledged this week that it lost 200,000 subscribers from January through March.)
And third, CNN+ was to a certain extent a casualty of corporate consolidation. Changes of some kind were inevitable once its parent company merged with Discovery Inc. Execs at the new company, Warner Bros. Discovery, were not happy with the anemic audience CNN+ was drawing, even after investing in the hiring of big media names like Chris Wallace of Fox News, Audie Cornish of NPR, and Kasie Hunt of MSNBC.
According to the Times, “At any given time, there were fewer than 10,000 people using the service,’’ although two sources inside CNN told the Times that CNN+ had around 150,000 paying subscribers and was “on pace to hit the network’s first-year goals.’’
Whatever the numbers, it was always clear that CNN+ faced a steep uphill climb. Last July, I wrote in the Globe about how streaming services “have proliferated like cidadas, many of them bearing self-important plus signs: Paramount+, Disney+, Discovery+, Apple TV+, BET+, ESPN+, Hulu+…”
I guess we can now subtract one “plus.”