CNN+ sets launch date

CNN+ will launch March 29, 2022, for U.S. customers, the network announced March 11, 2022.

“March 29 will be an important day in the history of CNN and CNN+ will be a critical part of our future,” said Andrew Morse, CNN EVP, chief digital officer and head of CNN+, in a statement. “I am so proud of the work our teams have done to ensure our world class journalism and storytelling comes to life on this new platform. We can’t wait for our subscribers to experience it.”

The normal price for the streamer was previously announced at $5.99 per month or $59.99 a year. However, customers who sign up within the first four weeks after launch will get 50% off the monthly plan for life as long as they remain members.

CNN+ will carry a variety of live and on demand content ranging from news, a talk show, miniseries and documentaries. Select past CNN Films and documentaries will also be available.

CNN+ will integrate with the existing CNN app and can be combined with TV everywhere for customers with compatible paid TV plans to watch live streams of the primary CNN feed plus on demand programming from the channel and its sister one, HLN.

However, the live CNN stream and access to most past programming from either channel will not be available to subscribers who only pay for CNN+.

CNN+ is also expected to have an interactive component that will let users interact with shows and each other and pose questions during select programs.

The network has already begun marketing the new service heavily both on its own properties and other outlets, an effort that is said to be costing millions of dollars.

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Much of the marketing centers around the “Stream all about” tagline that’s a take on the “read all about it” bark of newsies from the golden age of newspapers.

The network is using the existing CNN logo along with a custom drawn plus sign and starting in mid-February 2022, added the logo to the primary navigation on its website. 

WarnerMedia, which is in the middle of finalizing a merger with Discovery, announced CNN+ in July 2021 and set a launch goal of the first quarter of 2022 and it’s on track to meet that.

Even as the merger was shaping up, Discovery has said it may consider combining HBO Max and CNN+, which are owned by WarnerMedia, and its own Discovery+ at some point in the future.

CNN+ will be the second paid streamer from the major cable news networks — the first being Fox Nation, which launched in March 2019. Like CNN+, Fox Nation includes original series on a variety of topics as well as making its three major primetime shows available the next day via on demand, something CNN is not planning to offer for streaming only customers.

MSNBC parent NBC News runs NBC News Now, a free 24 hour streamer. MSNBC also runs The Choice channel on NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming service, which also has a free tier.

Streaming has become a key component of most major media company’s strategies as more people cancel paid TV plans via traditional cable and satellite providers (most recently 4.7 million people cut the cord in 2021).

Depending on their business model, streaming can also be a way to generate ad revenue during the often shorter commercial breaks or in the form of pre-roll spots, though advertisers haven’t migrated in force to streamers yet and inventory is often filled with in house promos.

Cord cutting also means that content providers are seeing less revenue from the fees pay TV services shell out to carry a channel or family of channels. These fees are passed along to consumers on their monthly bill, with markup for the provider to cover its costs and hopefully turn a profit, and sometimes negotiations over these fees are hotly contested. 

Some industry experts have pointed out that these fees, and not commercials, are actually where many major cable networks make most of their money, so building an alternative revenue stream to help offset pay TV cancellations makes sense.

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