How Cute: CNN+ Thought 29 Million ‘Super Fans’ Would Pay to Watch Them

April 27th, 2022 6:14 PM

Ahead of CNN+ turning out its lights on Friday, Axios’s Sara Fischer chimed in Tuesday with yet another scoop stating that, according to internal CNN documents from last month, the liberal network hilariously claimed there are “29 million ‘CNN super fans’” out there willing to pay up for the soon-to-be-deceased streaming platform.

“New data from a March 2022 pitch deck shows CNN+ executives projected that within the next decade, CNN+ would be more profitable than the company's cable arm today — which currently drives abound $500 million in annual profit,” Fischer began, adding later that these fools also thought “CNN+ could one day attract nearly 30 million global subscriptions from a total addressable market of roughly 72 million people.”

From that 72 million number, CNN+ allegedly sorted them “into three groups, with various models of overlap” with the first being the “29 million ‘CNN super fans’” followed by 24 million who’d be “fans” of “news and non-fiction SVOD (subscription video on demand)” programming, and then “36 million ‘global news consumers.’”

Fischer noted soon after that, back in reality, the starting number was only 150,000 at the two-week mark, which squared by CNN+’s own research from May 2021 that “show[ed] the value proposition for a paid news video service was never clear for consumers, who were increasingly suffering from news fatigue.”

Nevertheless, Jeffrey Zucker and his circus pulled the trigger anyway.

But one tone-deaf source inside CNN huffed to Fischer that while “it was a raving success externally, internally, people were always going to be resentful.”

Fischer concluded with more new reporting, such as how “[t]he creation of CNN+ caused frustration within the greater CNN organization from departments — particularly linear TV — that felt they were being handicapped by the disproportionate resources being allocated to CNN+” with “salaries for CNN+ employees” having been “higher than regular linear TV roles.”

As for the living (i.e. regular CNN), Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav spoke Tuesday about how he sees the future of CNN, which sure seemed different from how it’s functioned as of late.

Here’s how it was summed up by IndieWire (click “expand”):

But after the CNN+ shuttering and the installation of Chris Licht as new CNN head, Zaslav did seem keen to praise the CNN brand: “The ability to provide journalism and facts are the foundation of a civilized society,” he closed his comments during the Q&A. “Advocacy networks [FoxNews, MSNBC] are a great business, but CNN is in the business of journalism first. And it’s a really good business. Because we own it. Sports is rented. What Ted Turner tried to create is really meaningful. Ultimately when there are war trials, Exhibits A, B, C, and D [from Ukraine] will be from the great work CNN has done.”

That still may not be the morale boost CNN staffers are looking for. But at a moment of profound uncertainty and change across the entire Warner Bros. Discovery portfolio, that praise may be the most anyone could ask for right now.