Warner Bros Discovery Said to Be Planning to Add CNN Live Programming to Max Later This Year

CNN, one of the largest news organizations in the world, has struggled to find its footing in the streaming era.

Warner Bros Discovery Said to Be Planning to Add CNN Live Programming to Max Later This Year

Warner Bros. Discovery executives weighing different approaches to offer live CNN programming on Max


Warner Bros. Discovery is planning to add live programming from CNN to the Max streaming service later this year, according to people familiar with the matter, betting that news can help attract subscribers.

CNN's owner has already decided to add live news to the service outside the US, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing nonpublic information. 

Putting news on Max in the US could be complicated. Pay-TV providers like Comcast and DirecTV typically pay for the right to offer cable channels to their subscribers and are sensitive about efforts by media companies to offer the same programming online.

Warner Bros. Discovery executives are weighing different approaches to offering live CNN programming on Max in the US, including some that don't require renegotiating deals with TV providers, one person said.

In recent weeks, the team at Warner Bros. Discovery's streaming operation has started work on technical issues related to airing live news on Max, the people said. 

Warner Bros. Discovery introduced Max last month and has pitched the service to consumers as a combination of reality programming from Discovery and scripted shows and blockbuster movies from HBO Max. Chief Executive Officer David Zaslav has said he'll have more to say about news and sports in the fall. 

News and sports don't currently play a big role on Max, nor did they feature prominently on HBO Max, the prior version of the service. CNN has a few programs on Max, including shows hosted by Chris Wallace and Anderson Cooper. But those aren't live. 

While sports have been a major part of the programming lineup at Paramount+ and Peacock, two rival streaming services, it's less clear what role news will play in the competition. Netflix funds hundreds of documentaries, but has said it isn't in the news business. Amazon.com and Apple don't operate large video news services, while Paramount Global, Comcast and Walt Disney Co. have largely kept their news programming separate from their entertainment streaming services.

CNN, one of the largest news organizations in the world, has struggled to find its footing in the streaming era. Last year, the company shut down the CNN+ streaming service just a few weeks after its launch. The network is also seeking leadership stability. Earlier this month, CEO Chris Licht stepped down after a brief and tumultuous tenure at the network. 

While CNN is widely distributed on satellite and cable-TV systems globally, having its live programming appear on Max could provide a significant boost to the network's audience.

CNN's subscribers have fallen to 70 million this year from 85 million in 2020, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence. At the end of March, Warner Bros. Discovery had about 100 million streaming subscribers between HBO, HBO Max and Discovery+.

© 2023 Bloomberg L.P.

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