CNN+ vs CNN: Price, Launch Date, Features

At $6 a month or $60 a year, CNN+ doesn’t offer any of CNN’s live or primetime programming. Instead, new shows from stars like Anderson Cooper and Don Lemon set the aspiring streamer apart from what’s on CNN. Lemon, for example, will host a talk show instead of his usual nightly newscast; Jake Tapper will host a book club. (An introductory offer will cut the price of CNN+ in half as long as customers keep their subscriptions.)

“This is completely different from the US linear feed,” says Alex MacCallum, CNN+ product lead and executive director. “Everything we do on CNN+ is new and made only for CNN+.”

CNN has attempted to call the approach bold from the ground up. On Sunday, Reliable source Anchor Brian Stelter called CNN+ “the biggest bet any company has made in the world of news streaming,” noting that the network has hired hundreds of people to work on the service and is creating dozens of new shows for it. CNN+ boss Andrew Morse said the streaming service will “a crucial part of our future.”

[Photo: CNN]

But it’s also an attempt by CNN to have its streaming pie and eat it, too. Like other big media companies, CNN must balance its desire for a slice of the streaming business with the need to shore up the pay-TV package, which remains lucrative despite a shrinking audience. For now, that means CNN+ will be more of an add-on sale for cable subscribers than an appeal to cable cutters.

A CNN supplement

As if to underline the additive character of CNN+, the service does not get its own app. Instead, it will primarily exist as a tab in the current CNN app. A live stream of CNN’s cable channel will also be available here, but only if you sign up through your pay TV provider. (This all-in-one app will also replace CNNgo, which had allowed cable subscribers to watch the live channel on smart TVs and streaming players, although it’s worth noting that CNN+ won’t be available on Roku devices at launch will be.)

The approach is similar to that of ESPN+, which resides within the main ESPN app and primarily serves as a complement to what’s available on the cable channel. While some companies have taken a different route — Fox, for example, offers separate apps for Fox News and its streaming service Fox Nation — MacCallum says CNN has opted for a single app to reduce customer confusion. “We think the experiences really complement each other,” she says.

To further differentiate the two offerings, CNN will not create a linear feed for CNN+. While the service will offer more than eight hours of live programming per day at launch, subscribers will need to tune into each show individually.

MacCallum isn’t ruling out offering a linear CNN+ channel in the future — some of its streaming news competitors are already doing so, including CBS News and abc news— but CNN also wanted to emphasize the on-demand nature of the service with its live programming. For example, users can always jump back to the beginning of a live show or watch it as a replay.

“I think CNN is uniquely able to create a second live feed if we want one,” she says, “but right now we’ve done a lot of customer research, and that’s what people are finding the most.” valuable.”

Novel approaches

To be fair, the differences between CNN+ and CNN aren’t just about preventing cable cutting. The company also uses CNN+ to stretch its legs and try new formats that wouldn’t make as much sense on a cable channel.

The latest example is “Interview Club,” a recurring series in which CNN hosts and experts answer viewers’ questions in real time. Viewers can submit questions through the CNN website or mobile app, and they’ll be moderated by a human before they’re posted for other users to vote on. CNN talent will then select the most compelling questions to discuss on video.

[Photo: CNN]

In the first few weeks, CNN is planning Interview Clubs with Wolf Blitzer, Jim Sciutto, Erin Burnett, Dana Bash and others. MacCallum says that CNN has a programming team responsible for finding moderators for the Interview Club, and that people within the company are clamoring to be a part of it.

“Our goal for us here is to really give users a safe place to start conversations about topics that matter to them,” said Gitesh Gohel, senior director of product at CNN+.

CNN will also play around more with the length of its stories and shows, since they won’t have commercial breaks and won’t be locked into cable’s rigid 30- or 60-minute time slots. For a network that has long been criticized for keeping it there —Keep the interviews neat and tidy, even if further investigation is needed– that flexibility can be liberating.

“If a story is worth five minutes, we do a five-minute episode,” says MacCallum. “If it’s a deep dive of 45 minutes on a topic, we can make it that long.”

Keep cables separate

CNN isn’t the first news network to dabble in streaming. Fox Nation launched in 2018 for $6 a month, and Fox followed a similar strategy Positioning as a supplementary service for Fox News “superfans” with a separate program listing. NBCUniversal launched Peacock in 2020 with its own NBC news channel but only short clips from MSNBC.

Both companies have now come up with the idea of ​​freeing their shows from large pay-TV packages. Fox Nation launched last May Streaming some primetime shows from Fox News shortly after they aired on cable. Peacock will do the same for some of MSNBC’s primetime shows this spring Wall Street Journal reports.

MacCallum says that’s out of the question for CNN+ right now.


“We haven’t considered moving shows from cable to CNN+ because we’re trying to create something very different and distinctive,” she says.

But this approach could soon become untenable. According to the Leichtman Research Group, pay-TV packages lost nearly 4.7 million subscribers last year and another 4.9 million subscribers in 2020. As more people ditch big channel packages in favor of cheaper standalone streaming services, CNN is in for some tough Making decisions about where to place their best content. It’s the same dilemma that other media companies have faced when trying to build compelling streaming services without driving away their cable audiences.

MacCallum hasn’t commented on how CNN+ might handle these programming issues, but when asked about features like a live linear feed, she leaves just a little room for more future changes: “I think one of the things that we’re excited too. It’s about being able to launch and then learn what our customers want.” CNN+ vs CNN: Price, Launch Date, Features


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