Warner Bros. Discovery is strategizing to enhance its Max streaming service by incorporating live programming from CNN later this year, as indicated by sources familiar with the matter. The company believes that news content can effectively attract more subscribers to the platform.
According to insiders who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the information, CNN’s owner has already made the decision to include live news on the service outside of the United States.
However, introducing news content on Max within the US could be a complex endeavor. Pay-TV providers like Comcast and DirecTV typically pay fees to offer cable channels to their subscribers, and they have concerns about media companies providing the same programming online.
Executives at Warner Bros. Discovery are currently exploring different approaches to offer live CNN programming on Max within the US, including options that do not require renegotiating deals with TV providers, according to one source.
In recent weeks, the streaming division of Warner Bros. Discovery has begun addressing technical considerations related to the broadcast of live news on Max.
Warner Bros. Discovery recently launched Max, which combines reality programming from Discovery and scripted shows and blockbuster movies from HBO Max. CEO David Zaslav has mentioned that he will share more details about news and sports in the coming months.
Max currently does not prioritize news and sports content, and this was also the case with the previous version of the service, HBO Max. While CNN has a few non-live programs on Max, such as those hosted by Chris Wallace and Anderson Cooper, the network is considering the addition of live news.
While sports have been prominent in the programming lineup of competing streaming services Paramount+ and Peacock, the role of news in this landscape remains unclear. Netflix funds numerous documentaries but does not consider itself to be in the news industry. Amazon.com and Apple do not operate extensive video news services, while the news programming offered by Paramount Global, Comcast, and Walt Disney Co. is separate from their entertainment streaming services.
Despite being one of the largest news organizations worldwide, CNN has encountered challenges in adapting to the streaming era. Last year, the company closed down its CNN+ streaming service shortly after its launch. The network is also seeking stability in leadership, as CEO Chris Licht recently stepped down following a brief and tumultuous tenure.
If CNN’s live programming were to be featured on Max, it would significantly expand the network’s audience reach. CNN’s subscriber count has declined to 70 million in 2021 from 85 million in 2020, as reported by S&P Global Market Intelligence. As of March, Warner Bros. Discovery had approximately 100 million streaming subscribers across HBO, HBO Max, and Discovery+.
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