Reviving After Setback: CNN Announces Plans for New Subscription Streaming Service

Atlanta, Georgia – CNN is making a fresh attempt to launch a subscription streaming service, following the failure of its previous venture, CNN+. The news network’s CEO, Mark Thompson, recently outlined plans for the evolution of CNN in a memo, just 100 days into his new role. Thompson intends to merge CNN’s newsgathering operations into one unit that will serve its TV, streaming, and digital platforms, as reported by The Wall Street Journal. Additionally, a specialized unit will be created to explore growth and monetization opportunities, including the development of a subscription streaming service for CNN videos on mobile phones.

For CNN, this renewed effort represents a significant reversal after the collapse of the ill-fated CNN+ service. The network had invested heavily in high-profile anchors and a dedicated newsroom, only to see the launch fail spectacularly and be swiftly shut down by Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav. The demise of CNN+ stands out as one of the media industry’s biggest flops.

However, Thompson’s track record at The New York Times suggests he may have the expertise to succeed. During his tenure at the publication, he orchestrated the successful implementation of a subscription model, leading to the expansion of premium content in areas such as travel, food, and health. With CNN, Thompson plans to start with news as the core offering of the brand’s streaming service.

While details are scant at this stage, there’s uncertainty surrounding the appearance and cost of the new service. Thompson also expressed a desire to improve the presentation of video news on mobile phones, acknowledging that smartphones have become the primary devices for news consumption, particularly in the mornings.

The challenge lies in whether consumers will be willing to pay for CNN news on their phones when news is increasingly viewed as a free commodity. Some publications, like The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg, have successfully introduced paywalls. CNN’s expansion beyond cable television comes at a time when cord cutting has significantly disrupted the media industry, making the company’s business model and primary revenue source less stable than before.

CNN has weathered numerous challenges over the years, including political pressures, the need to correct misinformation, programming disruptions, the failure of CNN+, and extensive layoffs, which included the departure of previous CEOs and popular anchors like Chris Cuomo and Don Lemon. It remains to be seen how the rest of the year will unfold for CNN, as the specifics of Thompson’s plans for the streaming service have yet to be disclosed, including launch dates and pricing.