CNN, whose brief foray into subscription streaming was snuffed out shortly after the close of the WarnerMedia-Discovery merger in 2022, is officially getting real estate on Max.
A new offering, CNN Max, will be added to the streaming service in an “open beta” on September 27. It will consist of a 24/7 stream pulled from the news network’s U.S. and international feeds, with a sprinkling of original fare. For many reasons, some having to do with contracts with pay-TV operators, it won’t be a full-over-the top service and certain talent and new shows like the new 9 p.m. hour hosted by Kaitlin Collins will not be in the mix.
Warner Bros Discovery CEO David Zaslav hinted at the new venture during the company’s quarterly earnings call several weeks ago, saying news and sports make SVOD platforms “come alive.” He has been a vocal proponent of CNN but the news unit’s operations have also been one of his biggest headaches since the merger’s close. One of his first moves after taking over the combined company was to shut down CNN+, which was a pet project of WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar. The service had failed to gain initial traction and cost the company tens of millions of dollars to mount.
Most news in the streaming world is free and ad-supported. It remains to be seen if WBD will tack on a fee for the CNN Max stream. As with sports networks like ESPN, the challenge news networks face is how best to transition from the legacy model of pay-TV, in which operators pay large sums for the rights to carry the networks, to the direct-to-consumer world.
New shows will include CNN Newsroom with Jim Acosta, Rahel Solomon, Amara Walker and Fredricka Whitfield, and CNN Newsroom with Jim Sciutto. Sciutto will also lead breaking news coverage on the platform in the afternoons. CNN Max will also feature Amanpour, Anderson Cooper 360, The Lead with Jake Tapper, The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer and other anchors, correspondents, and contributors. This new 24/7 streaming service will bring the immediacy and value of global breaking news with top analysis, context, and reporting across all the biggest stories in the world to the Max streaming audience and enhance the product with the convenience of viewing news at anytime, anywhere, and on any screen.
“CNN Max is differentiated by having 24/7 news at its core from CNN, the leading global news organization, and being available on a scaled streaming service in the U.S., which has a significantly younger and additive audience compared to traditional TV,” JB Perrette, CEO of Global Streaming and Games at WBD, said in a press release. “This provides even more quality choices for Max customers who will be able to easily catch up on what is happening in the world, particularly in moments of breaking news, all within one seamless experience.”
When CNN Max goes live, its brand will replace the CNN Originals hub. In addition to the livestream, the hub will include more than 900 episodes of current and legacy programming, including CNN Originals Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace? and The Whole Story with Anderson Cooper along with library fare.
“CNN Max brings the advantages CNN has in global newsgathering, breaking news coverage and top analysis to a new platform and a new audience. CNN 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,” CNN Worldwide’s leadership team, Amy Entelis, David Leavy, Virginia Moseley and Eric Sherling, said in a joint statement.