CNN will launch direct-to-consumer streaming channel in early 2022

Two women and a man are shown during a TV broadcast behind a desk that says "CNN."
Dana Bash, Jake Tapper and Abby Philip in Washington during CNN’s coverage of President Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20.

CNN will launch its first standalone direct-to-consumer streaming service in the first quarter of 2022, giving consumers its live video content without a pay-TV subscription.

The WarnerMedia unit announced Monday that the service would be called CNN+. It will offer subscribers eight to 12 hours of live news programming a day at launch and have on-demand access to of its library of series, such as “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown.” No price was given for the service.

CNN, which is highly dependent on cable and satellite subscriber fees for revenue, is entering the streaming arena to reach the growing numbers of consumers who are bypassing traditional TV. Livestreaming of the flagship CNN channel with its on-air anchors Anderson Cooper, Jake Tapper, Don Lemon and Erin Burnett is only available for its current cable subscribers, and will remain that way with the arrival of CNN+.

Cable news is a major reason consumers keep their pay-TV subscriptions. But with hundreds of thousand of U.S. households cutting the cord each month, cable news executives know their operations are living on borrowed time as, at some point, rate increases will no longer offset the loss of subscribers.

CNN+ will be a means to get younger consumers who do not have cable into the CNN viewing habit. Many of them already turn to for digital news content.


CNN also is stepping up efforts to offer a direct-to-consumer streaming service to combat cable subscriber losses.

In recent months, CNN has been busy seeking producers and on-air talent to work on the new streaming channel. Kasie Hunt, a longtime Washington correspondent and anchor for NBC News, has reportedly been hired to join the service. CNN has not announced her signing, but Hunt said goodbye to viewers Friday on her early morning MSNBC broadcast.

Current CNN talent will be appearing on the channel as well, according to the announcement.

“On top of a television offering that has never been stronger, which remains at the core of what we do today, we will offer consumers a streaming product that grows the reach and scope of the CNN brand in a way that no one else is doing,” Jeff Zucker, chairman of WarnerMedia News and Sports and president of CNN Worldwide, said in a statement.

CNN+ will be overseen by Andrew Morse, the chief digital officer for CNN Worldwide.

CNN has been cautious about entering the streaming game as it hasn’t wanted to disrupt the traditional cable revenue stream that has made it a successful business for decades. Profits for the operation have topped $1 billion in recent years.

Although older viewers still watch traditional TV and make up the bulk of the news audience, companies are aware that younger consumers are getting their video content online and are planning accordingly.

Fox News Media has been building a streaming business with its subscription service called Fox Nation, launched in November 2018.

The monthly service does not offer any live news coverage but does offer programs with the conservative network’s most popular Fox News prime time hosts — Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham — on demand the day after they have aired on cable.

Fox Nation has also livestreamed special events such as the Conservative Political Action Conference, and recently added new original programs hosted by Carlson, the top-rated personality on Fox News.

Fox News has not revealed the number of subscribers or revenue for Fox Nation. But the business is clearly a hedge against the erosion of the cable habit.

NBCUniversal has put several channels with news content on its Peacock streaming service, including the Choice, which uses talent from its cable news network MSNBC. It also has NBC News Now, a free ad-supported live news service. But the company has not announced plans for a direct-to-consumer version of MSNBC.