Warner Bros. Discovery’s CNN+ Smackdown

While we speculate about whether Disney+ will combine its platform with Hulu, we do not need to perform such elaborate fantasies with Warner Bros. Discovery, who will merge HBOMax and Discovery platforms into one, exclusive platform. While the company transitions, it will offer bundling while testing the best way forward for the newly merged platform. The outcome will offer d-t-c options including ad-free and ad-lite options citing the male-driven, acquisition power of HBOMax and the female driven, retention power of Discovery programming. HBOMax has availability in 61 territories worldwide, including 15 just launched this spring in Netherlands, Portugal, Hungary, Poland, and Romania. These markets are fueled by HBOMax originals, some 10 in 2019 and 40 estimated by 2023. All combined, there are roughly 100mm subscribers of Discovery and HBO Max worldwide.

Almost instantly after launching CNN+, newly formed Warner Bros. Discovery shut it down. CNN+ was destined to serve as an extension of (but not replicate due to contract exclusions) programing on the live news channel, CNN. The launch experienced 10,000 visitors per day, with a paltry 150K subscribers in <30 days. Experts speculate that content will be bundled with the merged platform, just as Disney+ bundles Hulu and ESPN+, but only time will tell. Meanwhile, the launch cost the company about $300mm dollars and according to reports is inconsistent with the strategy of the new leadership at Warner Bros. Discovery. Launched on March 29, CNN+ shut down finally on April 28, 2022. That is seven months less than Quibi, which some experts are already comparing to CNN+. Quibi ended up selling its content to Roku (which reports have said Netflix is eyeballing currently…). With its own high profile stars, CNN+ is likely to also redistribute its content and premium programming across the newly formed platform.

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