In a strategic move aimed at boosting engagement on its flagship streaming platform Max, Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) has unveiled plans for an innovative 24/7 streaming news feature named “CNN Max.” The groundbreaking offering is slated to make its debut in the United States on September 27, representing a significant leap forward for the media conglomerate.
The announcement comes on the heels of a previous attempt of CNN Max at streaming, which faltered after just one month last year. Seeking redemption, WBD has initiated an open beta for this fresh foray into streaming news, driven by a determination to experiment with novel product features and original storytelling. The engagement of Max subscribers will be integral to shaping the service, as the platform actively solicits feedback.
In a press release, WBD outlined the distinctive features of “CNN Max,” emphasizing its utilization of CNN’s distinguished journalistic prowess, expansive global news coverage, and live programming derived from CNN US and CNN International. The service will also boast original programming specifically tailored for Max, establishing a comprehensive news experience.
According to JB Perrette, President and CEO of Global Streaming and Games at Warner Bros. Discovery, “CNN Max is differentiated by having 24/7 news at its core from CNN, the leading global news organization, and being available on a scaled streaming service in the U.S., which has a significantly younger and additive audience compared to traditional TV.”
The driving forces behind “CNN Max” will include notable CNN anchors like Jim Acosta, Rahel Solomon, Amara Walker, Fredricka Whitfield, and Jim Sciutto. These seasoned journalists, along with a roster of contributors and correspondents, will spearhead the initiative, ensuring the delivery of high-quality, real-time news content.
Analysts have consistently recognized the potency of live news as a pivotal differentiator for streaming services, particularly in addressing churn rates and sustaining user retention. Jessica Reif Ehrlich, an analyst at Bank of America, highlighted the centrality of news in driving engagement. She noted, “News drives engagement. News may not bring subscribers on, but it does drive engagement and keeps people on for a while. Since they own it, having news as part of Max makes perfect sense.”
The decision to integrate live news into the Max platform comes against the backdrop of a period of reevaluation for CNN, marked by challenges such as historically low ratings, organizational restructuring with mass layoffs, the unsuccessful launch of CNN+, and the departure of former chief Chris Licht.
Furthermore, CNN has contended with internal leadership changes, commercial setbacks, and company-wide staff reductions following the finalization of its $43 billion merger in April 2022.
In the financial domain, WBD has demonstrated robust performance, with the second quarter revealing an impressive free cash flow exceeding $1.7 billion – a figure more than double that of the previous year’s $789 million. Buoyed by this positive trajectory, the management has raised the stakes by aiming to achieve $5 billion in cost savings within the next two years, a step up from the previous target of $4 billion. Encouragingly, direct-to-consumer losses showed substantial improvement, narrowing to $3 million compared to a significant loss of $558 million in the same period a year ago. Notably, streaming losses saw a reversal in the first quarter.
With the launch of “CNN Max,” Warner Bros. Discovery is positioning itself at the forefront of the streaming landscape, harnessing the power of live news to invigorate engagement and secure a formidable presence in the evolving media landscape. As the service inches closer to its September 27 launch, industry stakeholders and consumers alike eagerly anticipate the transformative impact of this new paradigm in streaming news.
Source: Yahoo Finance