CNN+ has launched in the United States and the response has been somewhat underwhelming, reminiscent of the initial reception of the cable news network. The online service offers live, on-demand and interactive programming through an app, which also offers access to live feeds from CNN for those with a television subscription. CNN+ costs $5.99 a month or $59.99 a year but will be half price for early subscribers. It seems likely to be bundled as part of broader subscription once WarnerMedia and Discovery merge.
The CNN+ app is available on Android and Apple phones and tablets, Apple TV 4K and HD, and Amazon Fire TV. Additional device support will follow.
“Nothing like CNN+ exists in the marketplace, and no one other than CNN could create the kind of product we’re going to deliver,” promised Andrew Morse, the chief digital officer of CNN and Head of CNN+.
The online service offers scheduled weekday and weekly programming, including a traditional evening bulletin, The Newscast with Wolf Blitzer at 7.30pm Eastern Time.
“The launch of CNN+ marks another key moment in WarnerMedia’s evolution and CNN’s storied history,” said Tony Goncalves, the chief revenue officer of parent company WarnerMedia.
“Our lineup of live daily news and dynamic weekly shows set CNN+ apart from anything else in the marketplace,” said Rebecca Kutler, the head of programming for CNN+. “Our world-class storytellers will inform and entertain our subscribers and we will continue to grow and evolve in the months and years to come.”
An online community, the Interview Club, will allow subscribers to ask questions about issues that matter to them, which other subscribers will be able to up vote. CNN says it offers “a layer of interactivity no streaming service offers today”.
There are many unanswered questions about the CNN+ offer, given that CNN has long offered a free web site and app. As Wired put it, “Why get CNN for free when you can pay for CNN+”. Another review called it the Quibi of streaming news, referring to the short-lived service launched by Jeffrey Katzenberg.
Some reviewers appear perplexed that CNN+ does not offer access to the traditional live television channels of CNN. It does, but only for those with a television subscription. That is because CNN still makes big bucks from being part of the traditional television subscription bundle.
Meanwhile, CNN is part of a wider repackaging, with consolidation on the cards as Discovery completes its planned merger with Warner Media.