CNN Plus Drawing Fewer Than 10,000 Daily Users: Report

CNN Plus has attracted fewer than 10,000 daily users since the subscription streaming platform launched 14 days ago, according to data obtained by CNBC. 

The “paltry” figure (CNBC’s appropriate descriptor) represents only a tiny fraction of the 773,000 total day viewer average set by the linear CNN in 2021, a post-election year during which the pioneering cable news network struggled mightily. 

As one Twitter user noted, CNN has around 4,000 employees, a factor undoubtedly contributing to some of the usage. Further context: Disney Plus attracted 10 million paid users on its first day back in 2019. 

“We continue to be happy with the launch and its progress after only two weeks,” a CNN said in a statement. Neither CNN or its parent company, Warner Bros. Discovery, have reported audience metrics for the new streaming service, which launched March 29. 

The CNBC article was chased by a separate report in Axios suggesting that CNN Plus' original budgetary projections are expected to be slashed, once new CNN chief Chris Licht starts work on May 1 and sits down with the new Warner Bros. Discovery management team to discuss the troubled news streaming startup they've inherited. 

Certainly, outside expectations for CNN Plus have been dour, with pundits comparing the offering to failed mobile-first service Quibi, which failed to connect with consumers out of the gate back in 2020.

There's also concern that just-merged WBD’s new management team, facing heavy debt, will be reluctant to invest in igniting the fortunes of a subscription news service set in motion before the WarnerMedia-Discovery merger was announced last year. 

Asked about CNN Plus in February, as the WBD merger entered its final frenetic stages before closing, WBD CEO David Zaslav remarked, “I haven’t gotten a business review on what CNN Plus is going to be and how it’s going to be offered.”

Distribution is also an issue for CNN Plus — the top connected TV platform, Roku, just added support for the service Monday, and it's still not supported by Google TV/Android TV, as well as Samsung smart TVs, and Xbox and PlayStation gaming consoles. These are devices many adult news consumers use to access their streaming apps in the living room. 

CNN Plus is being marketed with a seemingly expensive $6.99-a-month price tag, but users can lock in a $2.99-a-month “lifetime’ rate if they sign up within 30 days of launch. ▪️

Daniel Frankel

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!