In mid-July, CNN announced that it’s launching its own streaming service, “CNN+.” Set to launch in early 2022, it’s planned to have 8-12 hours of original live content a day, mixed with other original programming and some popular CNN shows. That said, there’s elements to distinguish it from CNN proper:
- The new service is available through the existing CNN app, similar to ESPN’s app supporting ESPN+.
- You’ll still need a cable TV subscription (or a live cable subscription service like Sling TV) to stream regular CNN, even if you pay for CNN+. (Which is also like ESPN/ESPN+.)
- It won’t be bundled with HBO Max at launch, but some sources feel it might be offered as some sort of bundle with HBO Max and/or Discovery+.
As of this writing, pricing for CNN+ is unknown.
CNN+ has a lot of (mostly free) competition
Aside from the fact CNN+ is yet another “plus”-named streaming service, I have a few nitpicks. For starters, it seems like CNN+ will mainly just appeal to hardcore CNN fans, who likely still have cable (and CNN proper).
Additionally, CNN+ has a lot of competition, most of it either available for free or bundled with already popular streaming services. To wit:
- NBC and ABC offer streaming apps for NBC News and ABC News respectively.
- CBS (in my opinion) has the best free news service out of the traditional networks with “CBSN,” a stand-alone streaming service. Besides news coverage, there’s also the various CBS News shows (“Face the Nation,” “CBS Sunday Morning,” etc.). CBSN also offers local newscasts from its affiliates in various larger cities (Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Minneapolis, etc.). CBSN is also offered for free through Pluto TV and as a section of Paramount+.
- PBS offers its evening newscast, the PBS News Hour, on the PBS app and on YouTube. And of course, the other PBS documentaries/investigative programs, such as “Frontline,” are also available on their app.
There are also other non-TV-related news sources available online: NPR, BBC, Reuters, the Associated Press, the New York Times, etc. And, of course, CNN offers some news stories for free on its YouTube channel.
CNN+ is also another streaming service being offered by WarnerMedia, on top of HBO Max, Boomerang, and (soon) Discovery’s Discovery+. Paying the same media conglomerate for multiple streaming services might feel redundant. Offering some or all of these together at a discount (like the Disney+ bundle that includes Hulu and ESPN+), or how CBSN is included with Paramount+/Pluto TV, might make CNN+ more appealing.
Overall, I have doubts that CNN+ will be very successful. A paid extra service that’s a companion to a news channel that already requires a pricey cable subscription (or a cable replacement streaming service) to get seems a tall order. CNN+ is also competing against the services above, but with few unique elements. Finally, CNN proper has to contend with cord cutting. I wouldn’t be surprised if CNN+ becomes one of the casualties of the “streaming wars.”