Further supporting the claim that CNN Plus was perhaps the most poorly thought out streaming launch of all time, there seems to be general confusion among the platform's limited number of customers as to when they'll be refunded for a shuttered service they're no longer receiving starting Thursday.
"I am a Roku user who was very excited to see that CNN Plus was available," a Chicago-area user told Next TV earlier this week. "Knowing my free subscription ended today (4/23/2022), I cancelled last night (4/22/22). I thought NO WAY would Roku charge me $5.99 for the subscription given there wasn’t even going to be a service, but lo and behold, today I wake up to a charge for $5.99 on my account and a note on my Roku that I still have CNN Plus for another month."
Beyond not being informed about her refund, this user's experience is notable because Roku -- through its wholesale relationship with CNN -- seems to have charged her the full monthly rate, as opposed to the promotional $2.99 "lifetime" rate CNN Plus offered to users who signed up in the first month of the service.
Meanwhile, influential TV business writer Joe Adalian, who just days into CNN Plus' launch ominously compared it to the similarly doomed Quibi, tweeted on Wednesday, "I also have gotten zero emails about the platform closing or any notification about a refund. I’m half-expecting them to keep billing my credit card. Baffling how they launched with zero plan to build an audience. (The PR effort was similarly non-existent.)
CNN announced last week that it would end CNN Plus on Thursday, just 33 days after launching its SVOD service. CNN said at the time customers would receive a "full refund," a policy that is outlined here on this help page. CNN said all customers should receive their refunds by May 28.
Notably, one twitter user responding to Adalian's post said he already had received his refund.
The handwringing surrounding CNN Plus' floundering has been somewhat muted, at least compared to Quibi's undoing, with the media-on-media news cycle focused on Netflix's also spectacular fall from Wall Street grace last week.
However, the general corrosive themes seem to be: a.) the sudden departure of CNN chief Jeff Zucker in January; and b.) what appears to be very little coordination between a determined Jason Kilar, formerly head of CNN's erstwhile parent company, WarnerMedia, and David Zaslav, current chief of Warner Media Discovery, the company WarnerMedia was just merged into.
The result, Adalian noted, was communication and organization far worse than that of the infamously failed streaming outfit CNN Plus is now compared to.
"To be honest, Quibi was a lot better thought out than CNN Plus," Adalian also tweeted. "It was a similarly doomed idea, but the idea was at least very well-executed. I hope CNN eventually gets a subscription product of some sort. I do think there’s an audience for it beyond HBO Max. But CNN Plus wasn’t it."
Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!
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