CNN+ now goes down as one of life’s really bad ideas.
It lasted three weeks longer than the Titanic, 13 months less than the Hindenburg. No one was killed, but lots of talent (including Chris Wallace, shown here) was wasted.
Officially, the streaming service will shut down on April 30, 32 days after it began. The cause-of-death is listed as corporate confusion: Officials went ahead with the plan, fully aware that the incoming owners (Discovery) might dislike the idea; they did and shut it down instantly.
But unofficially? This was just never a good idea.
The real CNN – an excellent channel, incidentally – operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That didn’t leave a lot of extra time when we wanted something more.
The new streaming channel was given the sort of shows that CNN does well on weekends. There would be Chris Wallace interviews, an Eva Longoria food-and-travel show, an Ethan Hawke documentary taken from the tapes and archives of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. All seem promising … and probably will still be well-received on either CNN or HBO Max. But none seemed like a reason to have a separate streamer.
When CNN+ launched, a reviewer for Vulture said it feels “like the Quibi of streaming services.” That turned out to be accurate.
Quibi was the service that had segments of 10 minures or less and went only to people’s smart phones. It lasted seven months and lost about $1.3 billion; by comparison, CNN+ lasted only one month and lost only $300 million. It would have lost much more, if given time.
The service started with a bargain-basement offer — $2 a month, forever. That got it 150,00 subscribers, which was considered an adequate start. Fox Nation (an offshoot of the Fox News Channel) is estimated to have a million. Other estimates include 22 million for Discovery+, 33 million for Paramount+ (or 57 million if you include Showtime), 34 million for Apple TV+, 54 million for Peacock (including the free watch-with-ads people), 77 million for HBO Max (including HBO), 130 million globally for Disney+, 175 million for Amazon Prime and 222 million globally for Netflix.
Even with that, some people fretted about Netflix because its total has dropped a little, for lots of good reasons – ranging from competition to dropping the Russian business to the mere fact that post-pandemic people suddenly want to get out and go somewhere.
People started to fear that Netflix might now be “mature” – with nowhere else to expand. Not to worry, it has 1,500 subscribers to every one subscriber to CNN+ … which was a really bad idea.