By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Jeff Zucker’s folly comes to an end as Discovery pulls the plug on CNN+

Imagine a newspaper that required you to be a paid subscriber to the print edition if you wanted to read the paper online, and that you had to pay an additional fee for that privilege. If you weren’t a print subscriber, you wouldn’t be able to read the paper on the website, even though you were paying for digital. The only online content you’d be able to access would be repurposed programs and lite features. Needless to say, no one would sign up for such a terrible service.

Well, that’s exactly what CNN+ is. Or was. The New York Times reports that the network’s incoming owner, Warner Bros. Discovery, has pulled the plug on the weeks-old service. I’m surprised. I thought this would drag on for at least a few months. But I guess the decision was made to close it immediately rather than wait for the inevitable.

Cord-cutting is real, and CNN — like all content providers dependent on cable — needs to find a way to respond. This wasn’t it. Nice going, Jeff Zucker. I’m sure Discovery isn’t going to give up on coming up with a post-cable strategy for CNN. Wiping the slate clean was necessary for that.

One positive development coming out of this fiasco is that the new owners are reportedly planning to slot an actual newscast at 9 p.m., the old Chris Cuomo hour, according to Sara Fischer of Axios. Perhaps the anchor will be Audie Cornish, lured away from NPR to be a key part of CNN+.

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  1. Tom Johnson

    This is not much different from The New Yorker. If one subscribes to The New Yorker, both digital and print, it is impossible to suspend delivery of the print edition and just read the magazine online, which for us is often the case when we travel for months at a stretch. A stupid implementation of the media product.

  2. Steve Ross

    There is an odd twist. Cable companies usually have a cheap “local TV” tier that includes local stations, local public service, and a few home shopping. It does not usually include MSNBC, Fox, or CNN.

    Increasingly, local stations are streaming anyway. Smart TVs (or phones or laptops with Chromecast, etc), can shuttle the stream over to the TV screen.

    That would seem to be the coming thing for cable news as well.

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