CNN+ could be facing massive cuts to planned $1 billion investment as signups appear to fall short

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CNN was reportedly prepared to invest upwards of $1 billion in getting its CNN+ streamer off the ground, but the number may be drastically cut back after disappointing initial signup rates, according to Axios sources.

According to Axios reporting, about $300 million has been poured into the service so far, including hiring dedicated talent, behind-the-scenes staff and marketing plus product development.

CNN had worked with consulting firm McKinsey, according to Axios, and projected 2 million signups in the first year. According to separate CNBC reports, in its first few weeks of life, CNN+ is getting fewer than 10,000 viewers per day — which doesn’t necessarily indicate the number of accounts, but strongly suggests interest in the service is minimal.

That said, the service just launched on Roku, the largest connected TV service on April 11, 2022, and it’s not clear how much that could boost signups.

Meanwhile, internal projections were hoping for 15 to 18 million subscribers after four years, at which point the network hoped to break even on its investment.

Though the network has not confirmed signup figures or plans for the future, insiders are telling Axios that should new owner Warner Bros. Discovery move forward with cutting back on its investment going forward, large-scale cuts would need to be made, including the possibility of shedding staff.

CNN likely spent millions hiring away talent including Kasie Hunt from NBC and Chris Wallace from Fox, who are arguably the service’s biggest new names.

Meanwhile, CNN+ president Andrew Morse could be on the chopping block as the network prepares to welcome Chris Licht as its new president May 1, 2022.

Licht comes from CBS where he created the most recent version of “CBS This Morning” and, before that, headed up “Morning Joe” at MSNBC.

Complicating matters is that CNN’s former parent, WarnerMedia, was just spun-off from AT&T April 8, 2022, to merge with Discovery, creating Warner Bros. Discovery. The transaction had been expected to close in the spring of 2022 for some time, and many inside the company are reportedly wondering why the launch wasn’t pushed until after the deal closed.

WBD now owns to major, more broad streaming services: HBO Max and Discovery+ and has already said it plans to eventually combine them, without mentioning the future of CNN+, which, at the time, had yet to launch.