Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav On Killing CNN+: ‘The Subscribers Weren’t There’
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Warner Bros. Discovery

CEO David Zaslav says he wasn’t sending a message with his decision to quickly kill off CNN’s short-lived streaming channel, CNN+. “It was a business decision,” he told CNBC. “The subscribers weren’t there.”

CNN+ debuted March 29 after months of hiring, production work and heavy promotion. On April 21, after Zaslav took control with the merger of Warner and Discovery, it was announced CNN+ would end, and hundreds of employees would likely lose their jobs. “We looked at it, and we looked at the data, the number of users,” Zaslav said Wednesday on CNBC’s Squawk Box. “They had spent an enormous amount of money trying to sell an independent product. The subscribers weren’t there. The users weren’t there…when we looked at the data, the business wasn’t there.”

Fewer than 10,000 people were viewing CNN+ daily in the weeks that the platform was in production according to CNBC, well short of the network’s hopeful projections—and statements released to the media. “We continue to be happy with the launch and its progress after only two weeks,” a spokesperson for CNN+ said in April.

The New York Times
NYT reported CNN had planned to spend more than $1 billion on CNN+ over four years, according to people familiar with the matter, budgeting for 500 additional employees, including producers, engineers and programmers, and renting out an additional floor of its offices in Midtown Manhattan to accommodate them.

Zaslav was unwilling to pour any more money into the streaming platform. He told CNBC that he is, however, bullish on the CNN brand, which he sees as the most trusted source for news in a marketplace of “advocacy” networks. “I think there’s a very big lane for CNN. I think people…are looking for a place where people aren’t yelling and giving opinions, and they’re looking for more news.”

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