CNN+ announces pricing

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CNN says its upcoming streamer will cost $5.99 a month or $59.99 per year but there’s a way to get it at a much lower cost, the network announced March 3, 2022.

That price means the service will be on the lower end of other streamers, though that’s perhaps not surprising given its comparatively small library of content.

It’s $1 more than Discovery+, Apple TV+ and the first paid tier of Peacock, for example, but $1 less than AMC+ and Hulu’s base plan and $2 less than Disney+. Other services, such as Netflix, HBO Max and Paramount+, start at around $10 per month under normal pricing.

CNN is also offering what it calls the “Deal of a Lifetime,” which will give users who sign up in the first four weeks directly with the network 50% off their plan for life.

CNN+ has been tight lipped about its pricing plans for its streaming service and has yet to announce a launch date, though it has said it will be available in the spring of 2022 sometime.

“We’re thrilled to offer CNN+’s world class journalism, premium storytelling and Interview Club platform at this attractive price,” said Andrew Morse, CNN EVP, chief digital officer and head of CNN+ in a statement. “Nothing like CNN+ exists. There is no news and non-fiction streaming subscription offering available today, and only CNN can create and deliver a global news product with this kind of value to consumers.”

CNN+ says it offers subscribers three types of content: live, on demand and interactive programming, including a “whole new way to engage with CNN’s world class journalism and storytelling.”

“The once in a lifetime 50% off offer allows everyone interested and eager to subscribe to CNN+ to have access to it at an enticing price – for life,” said Alex MacCallum, CNN Worldwide head of product and general manager for CNN+ in the announcement. “For less than a cup of coffee, subscribers will have access to live programming from some of the greatest journalists in the world, premium on demand content and Interview Club – our interactive offering that is unlike anything else available on any streaming service today.”

It remains to be seen if consumers will be willing to sign up for “yet another” streaming service with a monthly fee that, while comparatively lower, could still be viewed as overpriced for what it offers.

By throwing in interactivity components, CNN+ appears to attempting to differentiate itself, though the market will have to decide if that’s enough of an incentive to drive signups.

For diehard news junkies and CNN fans, a subscription is likely to be more appealing and these folks may be more likely to take advantage of the early bird discount.

However, CNN+’s mid-level monthly fee appears to be walking the line between what the network needs to be financially viable and what the market can support while also not diluting its perceived value by charging a lowball price.

With the early sign up discount, users will be able to snag the service for about $3 a month, which arguably makes it more of an easy sell. CNN could also opt to extend the deal for additional weeks, months or even indefinitely to spur signups, so it’s possible that a $3 a month range in revenue is key to CNN’s internal pricing strategy.

It’s not immediately clear if the discount will apply if price hikes come in the future that don’t honor the original base price, something that’s not uncommon with streamers as they build out their content library, though the wording of the offer seems to imply it would.

It’s also not clear if CNN+ will be made available for free or at a discount with partner linear TV or mobile phone carriers, like the deals HBO Max, Peacock and others have in place.

CNN has been clear from the beginning it was not planning on offering a free or lower priced ad supported tier, though other streaming services have made similar announcements only to reverse course later. Selling ads on free or reduced price plans has its own set of challenges as many steamers appear to be struggling to fill commercial breaks with much beyond a handful of high margin advertisers and promos for in house programming.

CNN’s parent, WarnerMedia, is in the middle of finalizing a merger with Discovery to form Warner Bros. Discovery, and the leader of the soon to be combined new company had said earlier that he envisions a single, combined streaming service from the company.

Once the merger is complete, Warner Bros. Discovery will own Discovery+, CNN+ and HBO Max.

There is no immediate word of any plans to bundle CNN+ with HBO Max or Discovery+, much less if it might be folded into it a combined offering completely.

CNN will have a single app that will offer access to both CNN+ and its TV Everywhere experiences.

However, linear feeds of CNN and HLN will still require a separate pay TV subscription. Most agreements with cable and satellite providers prohibit networks from airing live feeds of their primary channels unless the consumer already pays for linear service.

CNN currently offers steaming TVE under the name CNN Go but that name will be absorbed into CNN+.

CNN+ TVE users will also have exclusive access to select on demand content.

In the single CNN branded app, CNN+ customers can explore a range of new live, on-demand and interactive content with editorially curated listings based on interest.