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CNN Plus to launch early 2022 (but won't stream live channels)

There's no confirmation on price or possible bundles with HBO Max or other streaming services yet.

Joan E. Solsman Former Senior Reporter
Joan E. Solsman was CNET's senior media reporter, covering the intersection of entertainment and technology. She's reported from locations spanning from Disneyland to Serbian refugee camps, and she previously wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. She bikes to get almost everywhere and has been doored only once.
Expertise Streaming video, film, television and music; virtual, augmented and mixed reality; deep fakes and synthetic media; content moderation and misinformation online Credentials
  • Three Folio Eddie award wins: 2018 science & technology writing (Cartoon bunnies are hacking your brain), 2021 analysis (Deepfakes' election threat isn't what you'd think) and 2022 culture article (Apple's CODA Takes You Into an Inner World of Sign)
Joan E. Solsman
2 min read
A photo of CNN's red logo on a stage.

CNN is owned by WarnerMedia, which is expected to merge with Discovery soon after the planned launch of CNN Plus. 

Getty Images

Cable news service CNN said Monday it will launch a standalone digital-video subscription called CNN Plus sometime in the first three months of 2022, a streaming service that will have its own selection of programming but won't unlock access to any of CNN's traditional channels. Parent company WarnerMedia didn't confirm an expected price nor plans for a discounted bundle with its other streaming service, HBO Max

The launch of CNN Plus should arrive in the midst of WarnerMedia attempting to spin off from AT&T, its current owner, and merge with cable programmer Discovery into a new media heavyweight focused solely on TV, film and streaming. That deal, which was announced in May, was expected to close in mid-2022, while CNN Plus is planned to arrive before April. 

But the leadership of the new company, which will be called Warner Bros. Discovery, promised to continue to fund CNN Plus when the merger was first announced. In addition, the merger will bring several streaming services under the same roof, not only HBO Max and CNN Plus but also Discovery Plus

CNN Plus won't have live feeds of the company's linear news networks, but it plans to have its own live, on-demand and interactive programming, including eight to 12 hours of live news daily at launch. It also plans a social element to the subscription, described as a "community component" that lets subscribers "connect directly with anchors and experts" in live conversations.

The new service will also have a library deep library of past CNN programming like seasons of shows including Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy, This is Life with Lisa Ling, and United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell.

CNN will have a single app that will serve both regular CNN customers and host CNN Plus programming too. So people who are regular CNN channel subscribers through cable or another pay-TV provider will be able to watch their live, streaming feeds of the networks via the app, while CNN Plus subscribers will use the same app to unlock that service's original content (but won't be able to access those live feeds).

CNN Plus will mark yet another new streaming service arriving on a tide of them, as media and tech giants both have unleashed a flood of options to compete with the likes of Netflix. Like Disney Plus, HBO Max, Apple TV Plus, PeacockDiscovery Plus, Paramount Plus and others that came before it, CNN Plus is a bet that its particular recipe of exclusive programming will lure you in as a subscriber as television at large transitions to a streaming future. But for you, these so-called streaming wars affect how many services you use -- and, often, must pay for -- to watch your favorite programming online.

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