Ouch: CNN+ is reportedly only getting around 10,000 viewers a day
By Michael P. Hill Article may include affiliate links
CNN declined to confirm the figure and only told CNBC “we continue to be happy with the launch and its progress after only two weeks.”
It’s important to note that the 10,000 figure doesn’t necessarily equate to the number of subscribers because, assuming it’s true, is only counting average daily usage. In fact, depending on viewer habits, the total subscriber count could be higher or lower than whatever the average daily viewership number is.
Subscribers who are hooked on the service and come back day after day could skew the average higher, while those who signed up out of curiosity and lost interest could have the opposite effect.
Because CNN+ is a paid subscription service, CNN likely knows the exact number of subscribers as well as exactly how many people are streaming what shows, how often and for how long but it has not released any of those figures.
Assuming the 10,000 figure is accurate or at least somewhere in the neighborhood of being correct, it’s tough to call the service a big hit (even if that number is under by a few hundred percent, it’s still arguably a low figure).
For example, the low-rated NewsNation network’s morning newscast “Morning In America” registered 12,000 viewers on the day it debuted in September 2021 (A decades old “Murder She Wrote” rerun that proceeded it had slightly more — 13,000).
CNN’s linear channel, despite suffering significant losses in recent months, is still averaging around 773,000 viewers a day, notes CNBC.
Put another way, the village of Sleepy Hollow, New York (of headless horseman fame) has a population of just under 10,000 people.
CNN+ may have one factor working in its favor — it just launched on Roku April 11, 2022, bringing it to the largest connected TV platform, which could help bump up signups.
However, the service still isn’t available on Google TV, Android TV, Sony PlayStation, Microsoft Xbox and Samsung and LG’s smart TV systems — and it’s a bit odd that CNN launched the streamer without a wider selection of integrations.
To be fair, CNN+ has a comparatively narrower market and content base than most streamers.
The service is most likely to appeal to people highly interested in the news — and willing to pay for it.
There’s also only one show that aims to be a faced-paced look at the news, meaning viewers have to commit to sticking around for runtimes that are more in line with linear TV shows (and since it’s news, it doesn’t have the advantage of being bingeable or having cliffhangers like much of the content on other streamers).
CNN+ does feature some docuseries that might be more bingeable, though it’s hard to compare those to streaming hits on Netflix, HBO Max, Disney+ and Apple TV+.
CNN was also late to enter the streaming market and requires a monthly payment outside of a free trial.
The network is offering a 50% discount that makes the service $3.99 a month as of April 2022, but with the market becoming increasingly cluttered, consumers may be wary of committing to even that small of another monthly recurring fee.
It also doesn’t help that ABC, CBS and NBC all offer free news streaming services that offer live coverage for much of the day, whereas CNN+ only offers live shows at set times as well as limited unscheduled live, rolling news coverage as news warrants.
Although 10,000 is an average view figure and it’s difficult to extract a subscriber count from that, if one assumes every subscriber is watching every day then it seems logical to reason that the service likely doesn’t have more than approximately 10,000 subscribers.
Again, this assumes the 10K figure is correct, but if it is, that means the network is only generating around $39,900 in revenue a month for paid subscriptions.
Assuming no growth or churn rates that keep the numbers at that level, CNN would only pull in $478,800 a year at this rate — almost assuredly nowhere near what it needs to be even close to profitable given the pricey talent and reported staff hires for the service CNN reportedly shelled out.
CNN also reportedly spent millions in marketing for the launch.
Speaking of churn, that’s another key challenge the streamer is likely to face in the coming months — will people stick around in large enough numbers to make the service continue to see a net growth rate?
CNN+ was already facing an uncertain future given that it was mostly spearheaded by a previous leadership team and launched just weeks before WarnerMedia was spun-off from AT&T and merged with Discovery to form Warner Bros. Discovery, which now owns CNN and CNN+.
Former CNN president Jeff Zucker reportedly took on the streamer as a pet project and, some say, had blinders on to the long-term viability of the service.
The new company is led by former Discovery CEO David Zaslav. Several executives from the WarnerMedia side departed the company when the merger went through April 8, 2022.
One of the key selling points of the merger was opportunities for cost savings and some CNN insiders are bracing for cuts to the division — which could extend companywide.
Even before the merger went through, leadership indicated it plans to combine Discovery+ and WarnerMedia’s HBO Max streamers at some point in the future, but pointedly did not mention the future of the then yet-to-be-launched CNN+.