Opening day: CNN+ streaming service gears up for launch on Tuesday

NEW YORK (AP) — Audi Cornish, once a familiar voice on NPR, says she signed on to the new CNN+ streaming service in the sense that she was helping to open a new frontier.

After much discussion, nearly $100 million in development costs and some 500 employees assigned to the task — many, like Cornish, on new hires — CNN+ is set to launch next Tuesday.

The company revealed a typical day’s schedule on Thursday, including a news countdown hosted by Kate Bolduan, Sarah Sidner, a Chris Wallace interview show, and a deep-dive news hour hosted by Wolf Blitzer on politics, international news and media. was hosted. Evening news broadcast.

“It’s so rare that a legacy news organization puts resources on something like this on this scale,” said Cornish, whose weekly interview show “20 Questions” begins in May. “Many times people say they will turn to something, and that can be half-hearted. I really appreciated that they were going all-in. ,

She said that it is “rare that someone says come and do what you do for us. It’s usually, ‘Come and do what we want.'”

CNN+ is a big swing the company’s leadership has made in turbulent times, and there’s no shortage of skepticism in the industry about its prospects. But CNN sees streaming as the future, a way to connect younger consumers, and The New York Times as a model for a successful news subscription service.

It will cost $5.99 per month, but Charter customers can permanently lock in a $2.99 ​​monthly fee if they act within a month of launch.

Andrew Morse, CNN’s executive vice president and chief digital officer, said, “We think it will be incredibly engaging to have a CNN fan, people who respond to our journalism, people who tune in to us when something happens in the world. ” “At its heart, CNN+ will be about great journalism and storytelling.”

While news is a staple, and CNN+ will have the ability to go live on big stories, the service is also relying on a growing library of original series and movies, such as “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown” and “RBG.” CNN+ will also emphasize programs that have specific, dedicated followers, such as Alison Roman in cooking, Scott Galloway in business and Jemele Hill and Rex Chapman in sports and culture. CNN’s Anderson Cooper will have a show on parenting, and seven-time author Jake Tapper will have a show focusing on books.

Two online series will be available at launch: “The Murdoch: Empire of Influence,” about media mogul Rupert Murdoch, and “The Land of the Giants: Titans of Tech,” profiles of the biggest high-tech firms.

Also an interactive element is planned where customers can ask direct questions to show hosts.

News competitors are already in the paid streaming space. Fox Nation, another paid subscription service, is designed to appeal to those who prefer Fox’s opinionated programming. MSNBC recently announced that it would make many of its programs available through Peacock.

The ABC, CBS and NBC broadcast news divisions offer news streaming products for free.

One analyst said CNN+ could get a boost because the war in Ukraine is reminding many consumers of the company’s news muscle. CNN+ will be attractive to consumers who are cutting cable cords but don’t want to lose access to news and information, said Alan Walk, co-founder of TVREV, a media analysis firm.

Given its older audience with questions about the future of cable news, CNN+ is the latest big step in the news industry’s endless quest to reach more young people, he said.

Stephen Beck, managing partner at consulting firm cg42, said he worries CNN+ will be caught in a consumer squeeze. People only have so much money to spend on streaming services and usually choose giants like Netflix, Amazon or Disney.

He questions whether CNN+ will have enough juice to compete.

“From a content side, they don’t have the big draws and at the end of the day, that’s what gets you home and on the screen,” Beck said.

The launch comes at a time of transition for CNN, often a hassle for new ventures. The network’s chief executive, Jeff Zucker, fell out with marketing executive Allison Golst in early February after they didn’t reveal their romantic relationship to corporate superiors.

She was expected to be a solid salesperson for CNN+. And it seemed that a steady stream of prominent people like Wallace, an ex-Fox News anchor, and NBC News’ Kasie Hunt have dried up since Zucker, who is also a motivational recruiter, left the building.

Morse said that Zucker’s exit has not affected talent acquisition. Cornish, who joined CNN+ a month before Zucker’s exit, said she was not recruited by him. Morse said other new employees would be announced soon, with a focus on health and wellness.

He said he has not discussed CNN+ with Chris Licht, who has been appointed as Zucker’s replacement, but has not yet started. CNN also awaits a change in corporate ownership, with the acquisition of Discovery from AT&T expected to be approved soon.

That impending change may have something to do with the hiring lull. Discovery’s ownership could provide more talent for CNN+ and, perhaps more importantly, an opportunity for more customers if it can tie in with the Discovery and HBO Max services.

For now, the focus begins Tuesday at 7 a.m. with “5 Things to Do with Kate Bolduan,” a countdown of the day’s top stories that’s modeled after a popular CNN newsletter and podcast.

The daily schedule also included “Go There”, which would travel around the world for news reports from CNN reporters. CNN+ news programming will not emulate any current CNN television shows; Contracts with cable and satellite providers forbid this.

Media correspondent Brian Stelter will have a daily version of his “Trusted Sources” show, and Wallace, known for his political interviews on “Fox News Sunday,” “Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace?” But will venture into other subject areas as well.

Blitzer’s 7:30 p.m. Eastern newscast is the last scheduled live event of the day.

“We believe that fundamentally the future is incredibly bright if we can build a global subscription product that values ​​incredibly critical journalism,” Morse said. “If we can do that, it will be really important for the future of CNN, but also really important for the future of the news business.”

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