The rumors of a CNN streaming service were true. The network has unveiled a CNN+ service that will offer a blend of live and on-demand shows that are "separate and distinct" from existing TV coverage. It will debut sometime in the first quarter of 2022. CNN hasn't narrowed down the price, but lead executive Andrew Morse told Variety in an interview that there wouldn't be an ad-supported tier at launch.
The centerpiece, as you'd expect, will be the live material. CNN+ plans to offer eight to 12 hours of in-depth topical coverage and "lifestyle" material every day, with both veterans and newcomers at the helm. You'll also have chances to interact with anchors and experts in real-time discussions. This won't be a digital replica of CNN's usual news, then, but you may have reasons to tune in every day.
The on-demand catalog unsurprisingly taps into CNN's existing collection, including shows like Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown and United Shades of America. There will be original shows and movies for the internet service, although CNN+ won't reveal those until later in 2021.
Officially, Morse said CNN+ wouldn't be bundled or otherwise tie into HBO Max despite the WarnerMedia connection. Variety sources, however, claimed there was a "strong probability" the service would be bundled with HBO Max and Discovery+ after WarnerMedia and Discovery finalize their merger.
Morse considered the CNN+ launch the largest the network has had since it started TV service in June 1980. It was also a chance to experiment with formats that blur distinctions between entertainment and news, the executive added.
The question, of course, is whether or not viewers will bite. CNN has had success with long-form content like the late Anthony Bourdain's shows, but it's not clear if people are ready to pay a monthly fee to see them. There's also the matter of streaming service overload — you might not be thrilled to subscribe to yet another offering just to be sure you catch everything CNN has to offer.