The executives at CNN must have been dreaming when they created their plans for the failed CNN+ streamlining service.
New data shows that the executives predicted that within a decade the streaming service would be more profitable than the cable news channel which currently accounts for around $500 million in profit, Axios reported.
Discovery’s decision to shut down CNN+ last week was driven in part by skepticism that the subscription service would ever hit profitability within a reasonable time frame, given current spend levels and subscriber numbers.
Versions of that March pitch deck were presented to executives at CNN, WarnerMedia and eventually Discovery.
The service also did not fit in with Discovery’s broader plans to create one giant, general entertainment streaming service, sources told Axios.
Some CNN executives felt Discovery’s leadership was intent on killing the service even before the merger of CNN’s parent company, WarnerMedia, and Discovery was officially complete.
The predictions from the executives believed that the streaming service could, someday, attract around 30 million global subscribers of a potential 72 million.
It had the groups of possible subscribers grouped into three categories that included 29 million “CNN super fans,” 24 million “news and non-fiction SVOD (subscription video on demand) fans and 36 million “global news consumers” who currently have news subscriptions.
It predicted that 70 of its streaming subscribers could be bundled with HBO Max someday.
“By the time the service was shut down, CNN+ had garnered around 150,000 subscriptions in a little over two weeks from launch.,” Axios said.
“Most of that was without CNN+ being available on Roku, one of the country’s largest smart TV platforms. While CNN executives saw that number as a success, Discovery executives did not,” it said.
“I defy you to find any reasonable person who ever believed that viewers would pay extra money for the dregs of CNN when it was competing for their wallets with Netflix and Disney Plus,” a former CNN producer said to Fox News. “Do you want to watch ‘The Mandalorian’ or extra Brian Stelter?”
The reference to “The Mandalorian” is a nod to the Disney+ streaming service.
“There should be consequences for the CNN executives who rammed the launch through despite Discovery clearly telegraphing their skepticism,” they said. “Everything should have been paused the day Jeff Zucker was fired because no one else at that level ever thought CNN+ could work.”
Another insider did not criticize the content but the decision to announce the streaming service after the merger with Discovery was announced.
“I didn’t get this whole thing from day one,” the insider said. “I’m not commenting on the content here. I mean – the basic product itself. I didn’t get why the massive money was spent after a merger had been announced. It was like wheee! AT&T gave us the money, let’s burn it. I don’t understand it.”
“No one involved ever had an answer on that,” the person said. “It was always – Kilar wants it.”
CNN host Brian Stelter said it was too soon to know if CNN+ was a success or failure.
"It's too early to know if this product, if this service was a success or a failure," Stelter desperately tried to rationalize the implosion of CNN+. And he chided the "haters." pic.twitter.com/vCFR3Q7dT4
— Nicholas Fondacaro (@NickFondacaro) April 22, 2022
“It’s too early to know if this product, if this service, was a success or a failure,” he said on his CNN+ show “Reliable Sources Daily” on Friday.
“You’ve got all the haters today saying this thing was a failure. I don’t know if we can even ever assess that because it just simply didn’t have enough time because of the management’s change in direction,” the host said.