What's Really Going on With CNN+?

AP Photo/Ron Harris

The CNN+ paid streaming rollout is such a hot mess that the service can’t even get viewers to take the free trial — and star anchor Chris Wallace is throwing daily tantrums.


The schadenfreude is delicious.

CNN had been told by high-priced consulting firm McKinsey that by charging $6 monthly or $60 annualy they could expect two million U.S. subscribers in the first year, and that the domestic subscriber base could grow to 15-18 million in the first four years.

As “Iowahawk” David Burge quipped on Twitter, “Oddly, there seems to be very limited demand for high powered consulting firms who tell clients their stupid ideas are stupid.”

Just how stupid?

Two weeks after its launch, CNN+ struggles to draw 10,000 daily viewers.

And most viewers are still in the free trial period.

Axios reports that CNN spent around $300 million launching the subscription service, “which includes a sizable marketing investment.”

Marketing to whom, one might ask, after looking again at those miserable viewership numbers.

Speaking of stupid, Wallace walked away from top-rated Fox News — and a reported $7 million annual salary — to host a show watched by fewer people than the typical Right Angle segment I shoot with Bill Whittle and Scott Ott four times a week for BillWhittle.com.

Wallace’s show is titled Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace? It would seem the answer is: nobody cares.


The same source tells Nicosia that Wallace is demanding Chris Cuomo’s old primetime slot — on CNN, not CNN+.

If my math is correct, CNN+ is just 4,545,444 subscribers short of breaking even on launch expenses. They’ll need to keep and add to them to cover operating costs, let alone generate a positive income stream.

CNN — the free version — gets about one-sixth as many daily viewers as CNN+ needs subscribers just to break even.

Who in their right mind thought that six times more people would be willing to pay for CNN+ than will watch CNN for free?

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What was the pitch? The network of sex scandals, the Cuomo boys, pedophiliacs, and low-budget partisan propaganda wants your money!

You can almost picture McKinsey running to the bank to deposit CNN’s consulting check before CNN woke up to the scam.


A quarter of a billion dollars on a streaming service so iffy that it would take a moron — or a high-priced consulting firm — to rate its chances any better than “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

I know a thing or two about subscription services. I’ve been a part of three different ones: one that failed and two that are thriving.

BillWhittle.com and PJ Media VIP work because we keep our content high and our costs low: No fancy offices, no studios, no directors, no producers, no gophers.

We’re just people producing as much content as time allows, of the highest quality our talents allow.

PJTV failed, maybe in part because it was ahead of its time, but mostly because it did have offices, a studio, a director, producers, and (for all I know) gophers. PJTV was just too high-cost for the market it intended to serve, no matter how much content we generated.

A high-cost streaming service like Netflix can work because it produces a ton of content no one can see anywhere else. A lot of that content is crap, but hey, it’s television. The point is that the combination of vast content, exclusivity, and production costs spread across enough paying subscribers makes Netflix profitable.


CNN+ is doomed to fail because it’s a high-cost service with very little that’s exclusive.

Chris Wallace is just one among many high-priced blowhard anchors — and you can find plenty of those on all the free news programs. The rest of the names at CNN+ barely rank a “Who?” They have shows like 5 Things with Kate Bolduan, Big Picture with Sara Sidner, Reliable Sources Daily (Brian Stelter), and The Source with Kasie Hunt.

Each one of those shows costs more to produce than VodkaPundit has had in total operating expenses since 2002 — and at least so far, I grab more eyeballs a day than any one of them does.

If you’d like to support six websites full of genuinely independent voices, you can become a PJ Media/Townhall VIP member right here. Use the FIGHTBACK promo code for a lovely 25% discount.

We’d love to have you on board.

And I can promise you this: No Chris Wallace.


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