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CNN launches CNN+, a subscription streaming service that will launch in the first quarter of 2022

CNN is joining the streaming game, executives announced Monday, with the launch of its CNN+ service in the first quarter of 2022.

Network executives describe the new platform as ‘an addictive experience that complements the core CNN linear networks and digital platforms to serve CNN super-fans, news junkies and fans of quality non-fiction programming.’

The streaming service will offer eight to 12 hours of live programming per day, original series and an interactive community ‘to engage directly with our talent and experts about the issues that matter to them most,’ Andrew Morse, CNN’s chief digital officer, said in a statement. 

It will initially be integrated into the existing CNN app, according to Variety, with a price for the service still to be announced.

CNN officials announced on Monday they will be launching a new streaming service called ‘CNN+,’ which will debut in the United States next year

It will initially be integrated into the network's existing app, seen here

It will initially be integrated into the network’s existing app, seen here

The live, daily programming will be separate from that of the network, as lucrative, long-term deals between the network and cable and satellite companies prohibit it from selling its live programming to streaming services.

Instead, the company announced, CNN+ will act as a ‘parallel track to serve both existing cable subscribers who want additional programming and customers who do not have cable at all.’

The live programming on it will offer ‘topical deep dives and lifestyle content from some of CNN’s most prominent talent as well as several new faces,’ who will delve into topics such as race, climate change, space and science.

It will also include non-fiction programs, like ‘Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown,’ and ‘Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy,’ as well as other unscripted series and films developed specifically for the new subscription service, which will also allow viewers to interface directly with the hosts – something CNN has experimented with in town-hall discussions about the coronavirus pandemic.

‘CNN invented cable news in 1980, defined online news in 1995 and now is taking an important step in expanding what news can be by launching a direct-to-consumer streaming subscription service in 2022,’ Jeff Zucker, chairman of Warner Media news and sports, and president of CNN Worldwide, said in a statement.

‘On top of a television offering that has never been stronger, which remains at the core of what we do today, we will offer consumers a streaming product that grows the reach and scope of the CNN brand in a way that no one else is doing.

‘Nothing like this exists,’ he said.

Morse explained that the streaming service is ‘not going to be a news headline service,’ More said, calling the new service ‘very different from anything else that’s on the market.’

At launch, he said, the service will be focused primarily on videos, but ‘as we understand how customers are consuming the service, we can totally think about new kinds of formats, including podcasts and long-form articles.’

The streaming service will feature some of the network's original shows, like 'Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown,' and will include original programming

The streaming service will feature some of the network’s original shows, like ‘Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown,’ and will include original programming

The announcement of the streaming service comes as stocks for CNN's parent company, AT&T continue to fall, two months after it announced it would be merging Warner Media and Discovery

The announcement of the streaming service comes as stocks for CNN’s parent company, AT&T continue to fall, two months after it announced it would be merging Warner Media and Discovery

Tens of millions of people currently have access to CNN through a subscription to a cable or satellite service, the network reported, but it has taken a hit in recent years as more and more Americans are cutting the cord.

In January, The Trade Desk released a survey showing that 27 percent of American households planned to cancel their cable or satellite packages by the end of the year, nearly double the 15 percent cancelation rate in 2020, according to Forbes.  

Andrew Morse, CNN's chief digital officer, will lead the new CNN+ team

Andrew Morse, CNN’s chief digital officer, will lead the new CNN+ team

Only about two-thirds of U.S. households are now subscribing to cable, satellite or ‘skinny bundle’ packages, Forbes reported, with the amount of time spent watching TV plummeting as well – with 68 percent of view time devoted to streaming services and only 28 percent devoted to traditional TV.

But with the new streaming service, CNN executives expect to reach a larger audience.

‘We think given our brand reach; given our credibility; given our trust; given the fact that we can reach 290 million across linear and digital platforms globally, that there’s a really substantial audience opportunity for us.’

The company is hiring about 450 people to work on the new venture, which will be led by Morse, with Alex MacCallum, the current head of product, serving as CNN+’s general manager, according to The Hollywood Reporter

Rebecca Kutler, Courtney Coupe and Robyn Peterson will oversee programming, content strategy and operations and technology, respectively, while the CNN Originals team will oversee the originals for the new streaming service.

CNN’s announcement comes as stocks for its parent company, AT&T, were down more than 2 percent by mid-day Monday, two months after the company announced it was spinning off Warner Media and combining it with Discovery, and as more and more news networks create their own streaming services.

FOX has had its own streaming service, FOX Nation, for three years, but it is listed as an ‘entertainment’ app, rather than a ‘news’ app, focusing on lifestyle, documentary and commentary programming, and MSNBC announced last week that it will be expanding its programming on Peacock.

The streaming service market giants, as it stands now

CNN will be joining a growing market of streaming services with the debut of its CNN+ service next year, including:

  • Netflix – known for its original television shows and other shows that are no longer on air, the lowest tier for the service costs $9 per month
  • Hulu – which offers next-day access to many prime-time shows, some of which it revived, as well as new movies. It costs $6 per month with ads, or $12 per month without ads
  • Amazon Prime Video – included in one’s Amazon Prime account, Amazon Prime features some original shows
  • Apple TV+ – focused primarily on its own original content, some of which have been Emmy-nominated. It costs $5 per month, or one year free with the purchase of a new Apple product
  • Paramount Plus – formerly CBS All Access, it now includes MTV, Comedy Central, VH1, BET, Nickelodeon shows, as well as a library of Paramount movies and CBS News for $5 per month with ads or $10 per month with no ads 
  • Disney+ – includes all of the Disney classics, shows and movies from the Disney channel, as well as classic and original Star Wars and Marvel content for $6 per month or $70 per year
  • Peacock – includes some NBC classics for free with ads and NBC news, but originals and full seasons are restricted to those who have Peacock Premium, for $5 a month. An ad-free version costs another $5 per month
  • HBO Max – has all of the HBO original series, thousands of classic movies, several television shows and new original projects for $15 per month

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