CNN+, the much-hyped (by CNN) subscription streaming service from the cable news company, has fewer than 10,000 daily users two weeks after launch, according to a report.
Company insiders who spoke to CNBC News revealed the streaming platform's poor audience numbers amid reports that CNN executives are about to dramatically reduce their planned $1 billion investment in the project after parent company WarnerMedia completed its merger with Discovery to become Warner Bros. Discovery.
CNN+, which launched on March 29, was initially expected to bring in about 2 million U.S. subscribers in its first year and 15 million to 18 million after four years, according to Axios. Reportedly, CNN has already spent $300 million developing and marketing the service. The company poached high-level talent from rival networks to support its launch, including Chris Wallace from Fox News and Kasie Hunt from MSNBC.
But there's little indication that initial investment is paying off. Shortly after launch, reports emerged that CNN+ employees were bracing for layoffs amid "lackluster" subscriptions.
The subscription service charges users $5.99 a month or $59.99 annually to stream content and was available on desktop and various streaming devices including Amazon Fire TV, Android phones, tablets and Apple devices at launch. The service only became available on Roku Monday, and it is not yet available on Android TV.
Having fewer than 10,000 daily viewers would appear to confirm that subscriptions are lagging. By way of comparison, CNN's cable TV channel averaged 773,000 total daily viewers in 2021.
Publicly, the company maintains that things are going well. "We continue to be happy with the launch and its progress after only two weeks," a CNN spokesperson told CNBC.
CNN+ has not disclosed how many subscribers it has. Entertainment-based subscription services, which dominate the streaming industry, boast millions of subscribers. Netflix, in a recent disclosure, reported 22 million global subscribers and 75.22 million paid memberships in the U.S. and Canada. Disney+ acquired 10 million subscribers on launch day in 2019 and now reports having more than 118 million subscribers. ESPN+, a sports news streaming service, claims to have 21.3 million subs.
Axios reported Tuesday that the new leadership at Warner Bros. Discovery wants to cut hundreds of millions of investment dollars for the streaming service amid concerns about its future. Chris Licht will take over as CEO at CNN on May 1 and is expected to make a decision about the CNN+'s future then.