CNN is heading to the Max streaming platform.
The network’s parent company, Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD), announced Thursday that it will incorporate live news into its super-streamer Max service, allowing subscribers access to 24/7 programming from the global news brand.
The service, which launches a little more than a year after Warner Bros. Discovery executives shuttered the previous standalone CNN+ service, will be called CNN Max and launch with a “beta” label on September 27 in the United States before being rolled out more broadly following feedback received during the nascent stage.
CNN Max will include some of the network’s most recognizable shows, such as “The Lead with Jake Tapper,” “The Situation Room,” “Anderson Cooper 360,” and “Amanpour.” It will also feature new live programs specifically created for the streamer, including “CNN Newsroom with Jim Acosta, Rahel Solomon, Amara Walker and Fredricka Whitfield” and “CNN Newsroom with Jim Sciutto.” Sciutto will lead breaking news reports as warranted in the afternoons.
CNN Max will additionally feature the news network’s large slate of previously developed original programming, including Emmy-award winning shows such as “Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy” and “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown.” Current programs, such as “The Whole Story with Anderson Cooper” and “Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace?” will also be made available.
CNN’s four-person interim leadership team — made up of Amy Entelis, David Leavy, Virginia Moseley, and Eric Sherling — said that the network “was founded by innovating new ways to deliver the news, and through CNN Max more consumers will now be able to find, engage and learn from CNN’s reporting, giving the company multiple ways to build and grow for the future.”
Another streaming effort
The launch of CNN Max marks CNN’s second recent foray into streaming as the company moves to quickly create a life boat for the future as linear television continues to rapidly decline in the era of streaming. The number of households paying for basic cable has shrunk considerably, imperiling the longstanding business models of traditional television. According to Nielsen, linear television made up less than half of all viewing for the first time last month.
Under previous leadership, CNN launched the standalone streaming service CNN+, which former executives touted as one of the most important moves in the network’s four-decade history. AT&T (T), CNN’s previous owner, allowed the network to invest significantly into the service, building a streaming infrastructure and luring household names such as Chris Wallace and Audie Cornish to the platform for new shows.
But CNN+ never fit into the plans of Warner Bros. Discovery, which offered a vision of a super-streamer that bundled a large volume of content under one roof. Warner Bros. Discovery executives, needing to cut costs to pay down billions in debt after acquiring CNN’s former parent company, WarnerMedia, from AT&T, also balked at the cost of building and programming CNN+.
As a result, CNN+ was quickly shut down after ownership switched hands, leaving the news network without a viable path forward in the streaming age.
CNN Max represents a path forward into the future, while also being more aligned with Warner Bros. Discovery’s vision. The service will be housed inside its Max platform, which features a wide array of content from HBO, Discovery, and Warner Bros. Pictures. It will emphasize breaking news over personality driven television. And, perhaps most importantly, it will likely come at a far lower price point, given that it will leverage many of its existing resources.
One of the complaints about CNN+ was that it did not feature some of CNN’s most prominent programming. Because of distribution agreements with US cable companies, who pay CNN for carriage rights, the network is prohibited from selling its programming independently. To solve for the problem, Warner Bros. Discovery will offer Max subscribers access to portions of CNN International, a separate channel not bound by such agreements, in which some of its biggest US shows are simulcasted.
Warner Bros. Discovery executives, including chief executive David Zaslav, have talked about how they believe live news will allow them to distinguish the Max streaming service from others, such as Netflix (NFLX).
When the Max service was unveiled in April, Zaslav hinted that news and sports programming will factor into the service in the future, given that Warner Bros. Discovery owns properties such as Turner Sports and CNN.
“As we laid out at our launch only a few months ago, our vision for Max is to be The One to Watch for all members of a household,” JB Perrette, the Warner Bros. Discovery executive who oversees the company’s streaming strategy, said in a statement. “We have the broadest and highest quality entertainment offering, and now will include world-leading news as a meaningful addition for all Max subscribers, at no extra charge.”
Warner Bros. Discovery said that CNN Max will be available across all its various subscription packages, including its advertiser-supported plans.