CNN+ signup data and viewership data likely won’t be clear unless the network decides to announce it

By Matt Collins Article may include affiliate links

There are a lot of opinions going around about CNN+, the WarnerMedia owned cable network’s streaming service that launched March 29, 2022. Some think it’s revolutionary. Some think it’s a pet project of former CNN head Jeff Zucker that won’t last. Some wonder why we need YASS (yet another streaming service). Others are simply scratching their heads.

However, one thing is fairly clear: It’s going to be tough to know exactly how many people CNN+ is signing up unless the network opts to release that information.

CNN+ did not, unlike some streamers, release a separate app for its service. Many app marketplaces offer rankings, such as indicating a certain app is trending up or down with new downloads, or if it’s, for example, in the “top 100” in installs in a week (these metrics often discard downloads that are removed by the user within a short period of time).

However, since CNN+ is simply being offered through the existing CNN app on most platforms, looking at app downloads wouldn’t prove useful unless there’s a significant spike in downloads — which does not appear to be the case at least immediately.

CNN’s app is popular and widely installed before CNN+ launched and existing app users could be arguably more likely to subscribe to the streamer.

Other streaming services, such as NBC News Now and ABC News Live, are also integrated within those networks’ existing apps, so CNN+ isn’t the first to take this path. In some ways it makes more sense — why create a separate app that requires a separate download when your business model presumably centers around getting as many people as possible to sign up.

CNN is part of a public company, AT&T, and will continue to be so once Discovery buys its parent WarnerMedia, but regulations typically do not require revenue, profit, losses or other financial or signup metrics to be broken down to the level of a particular service.

There are third party analytics providers that can estimate app and subscription signups by looking at a variety of data points that could be linked to the use of a particular app, streamer or service, but these vary greatly in accuracy and reach.

Grabbing viewership information (such as the number of people watching a show and for how long) on streaming platforms is also tricky for third party companies and will likely be so with CNN+ as well.

Even though most streamers likely know exactly how many people are watching and for how long, this type of information isn’t as widely tracked as broadcast and cable TV by third party companies who might be more inclined to release it. Even if it is, it is typically estimates based on statistical modeling or other system.

Third party services that are able to gain some insight into viewership might be not be able to collect enough data, especially at when a service first launches, for figures to be statistically accurate — and some will decline to release that type of data for that reason.

It’s not uncommon for all networks to issue press releases touting metrics of all kinds, but it’s also important to keep in mind that, even with publicly available data (which it’s not clear if CNN+ will release), it’s easy for these announcements to focus only on positive data trends.

For linear TV ratings, pretty much every network has been guilty of sending out a press release at some point touting big wins in ratings, but it’s also not uncommon for multiple outlets to imply themselves as the winner during the same ratings period — because they might be using different interpretations of the data, omitting or emphasizing unfavorable or favorable data or simply spinning the facts to meet a narrative.