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CNN’s New Owners Suspend Marketing For Chris Wallace-Led Streaming Service, Lay Off CFO: Report

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


CNN’s new streaming service CNN+ is facing extreme cuts and reviews by incoming corporate parent Warner Bros. Discovery after it was a total disaster.

The new owners are reportedly not happy with the Chris Wallace-led streaming service, suspended all external marketing spending for CNN+, and laid off CNN’s longtime chief financial officer.

The new owners at Discovery have replaced CNN CFO Brad Ferrer with Neil Chugani, Discovery’s current CFO for streaming and international.

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Sources say corporate parent Warner Bros. Discovery executives are planning to dramatically shift the network’s primetime shows back to hard news and away from partisan politics.

The new bosses are aiming to spend money in order to get the cable news side back to straight news reporting.

They are essentially abandoning the streaming service, which leaves Wallace holding the bag and potentially without a show to host.

CNN executives initially wanted to have 2 million subscribers for the streaming service in the first year, but only managed to get around 150,000 subscribers.

“Discovery’s experience launching niche subscriptions services, like GolfTV and its Food Network Kitchen App, has informed its strategy to focus on one scaled general entertainment offering around HBO Max, instead of more niche services that have to compete with big apps for subscriber cash,” Axios reported.

“Discovery executives are focused mostly on returning CNN to its journalistic core, a point Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav reiterated in a town hall last week. That includes less of a focus on primetime perspective programming, and more of a focus on hard, breaking news. CNN+ features an array of soft news content, which doesn’t align with Discovery’s broader vision for CNN,” the report added.

For his part, Wallace is furious with the start of the new streaming service for CNN and is threatening to leave.

Jon Nicosia, the former managing editor of Mediaite, broke the story of Wallace being disgruntled on Twitter.

“SOURCE: Chris Wallace is ‘having daily breakdowns’ over the ‘miserable launch’ of @CNNplus. Wants a ‘CNN show or is threatening to walk’ they go on. ‘He is having staffers count how many times a day his promo is playing,’” he said.

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It is starting to look like Wallace, who was annoyed with Fox News’ coverage of the 2020 election and, in particular, host Tucker Carlson, made the incorrect decision in leaving.

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A recent report also detailed how a large number of funds that were set to go into the streaming service are going to be cut.

The news giant was initially planning to invest around $1 billion in the service over the next four years. Hundreds of millions of dollars are expected to be cut from that original investment total. To date, around $300 million has been spent on the subscription service, which includes a sizable marketing investment. The new company’s leadership team still has yet to decide the ultimate fate of CNN+. CNN’s new boss, Chris Licht, will start May 1.

Fox News Primetime host Tucker Carlson reportedly had more to do with former colleague Chris Wallace’s departure from the network than previously known.

The former “Fox News Sunday” host was interviewed by The New York Times and took a number of swipes at his former place of employment.

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Wallace left Fox News to join the new CNN streaming service CNN+ where he will not be covering politics but will be interviewing cultural figures.

“I’m fine with opinion: conservative opinion, liberal opinion,” he said of his decision to leave Fox News. “But when people start to question the truth — Who won the 2020 election? Was Jan. 6 an insurrection? — I found that unsustainable.”

He said that he spent “a lot of 2021 looking to see if there was a different place for me to do my job.”

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