For years, the joke about CNN has been that the only people watching the network are those stuck in airport terminals, where the channel is omnipresent.
Other than that, it’s liberal background noise, cable news’ equivalent of those YouTube jazz channels people turn on when they need some sound to break the silence. Since the Trump administration has ended and Chris Cuomo was unceremoniously shown the door, the airport-terminal joke has become even more painfully true.
Part of the problem is that CNN insiders don’t realize this. A bigger problem, however, is the extent to which they don’t realize it — something that becomes quickly apparent when you consider the projected numbers for failed streaming platform CNN+ that Axios managed to scoop.
(Of course, The Western Journal noted from the beginning how bad of an idea CNN+ was and how quickly it would collapse — mostly because we’ve documented how irrelevant the network has become. We’ll continue bringing America the truth about the establishment media as it continues to implode. You can help us by subscribing.)
On Tuesday, Axios published a March 2022 pitch from CNN+ executives about their expectations for the streaming platform. Among its hilariously wrong-headed projections: that there were 29 million CNN “superfans” who would lead the platform to $800 million in annual profit, more than the entire cable network currently makes.
“Discovery’s decision to shut down CNN+ last week was driven in part by skepticism that the subscription service would ever hit profitability within a reasonable time frame, given current spend levels and subscriber numbers,” Axios’ Sara Fischer noted.
They weren’t wrong; reports put CNN+’s active user base at around 10,000 people, a woefully low number; there are kids streaming themselves playing video games on Facebook that are drawing those kinds of audiences, and they didn’t receive the $300 million in start-up money plus the estimated $100 million to $200 million in advertising the New York Post reported CNN+ got.
That likely wasn’t the only reason CNN+ got the ax after less than a month, given the complicated merger between CNN parent WarnerMedia and Discovery — and the fact Discovery’s leaders are the ones at the helm.
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Sources had previously told Axios that CNN’s plan to launch its own streaming service didn’t necessarily fit in with Discovery’s plan “to build one scaled, subscription streaming app based around HBO Max’s branding that includes a cheaper, ad-supported tier.”
That said, it probably didn’t help CNN+’s cause that its projections in the March 2022 pitch were bad-funny.
According to the internal documents, financial projections had the network eventually reaching 30 million subscriptions globally.
These subscriptions would come from three groups. First, 29 million projected “CNN super fans.” (No, that’s not a typo.) Second, 24 million “news and non-fiction SVOD (subscription video on demand) fans.” Finally, 36 million “global news consumers.”
Executives projected over 10 million subscribers by 2024. The service had, at the time of its shutdown, roughly 150,000 subscriptions at a reduced introductory price — and the number of active users at any given time was far, far below that.
Furthermore, internal research contradicted the need for a paid streaming service, finding its target audience was experiencing news fatigue.
“We did not hear a self-declared appetite for more premium live news shows from any of our personas,” the research stated.
“While one CNN source says that research — which was distributed widely within CNN — was eventually dismissed as inaccurate, another said it shows why employees outside of the CNN+ team were skeptical of the service,” Axios reported.
“Even if it was a raving success externally, internally, people were always going to be resentful,” a source told Axios.
The problem is that a) it wasn’t a “raving success externally” and b) when that research was pitted against a business model which assumed there were 29 million “CNN super fans” to sign up for the service, it’s easy to see why those outside the CNN+ team were skeptics.
Not only that, but the main draw for CNN+ was supposed to be Fox News hire Chris Wallace. Wallace’s program was a one-on-one interview program modeled after long-form discussion shows like Charlie Rose or Dick Cavett. Not that there’s anything wrong with the format, but it spoke to a bygone era in broadcasting — and it certainly wasn’t going to carry a paid streaming service for a cable channel already hurting for viewers.
Ah well. CNN+ may be gone, but I’m sure those 29 million “CNN super fans” will be back any day now to boost the network’s ratings.