CNN and other cable news networks are coming off a fantastic TV ratings year but WarnerMedia sounds like it wants CNN to branch further out into streaming.
WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar this week appeared on the Recode Media podcast with Peter Kafka and heavily suggested that CNN will move beyond its linear pay TV channel. He said CNN is currently two things: an amazing team of journalists and a linear channel that they use to manifest that journalism.
“I would argue that there’s an opportunity to do more than just those two things. I would argue that there’s an opportunity to take that franchise that is the incredible, talented team at CNN and have them manifest their journalism additionally through direct-to-consumer environments,” he said. “By the way, it’s very possible for us to have a linear HBO service and to have HBO Max. So, I would argue, using that analogy, that it’s absolutely possible for CNN to both have a linear channel…and be able to invent and serve customers in other ways over the internet.”
The Information reported late last year that CNN was looking into launching a streaming service based on content from its linear network. Based on Kilar’s comments, it sounds like WarnerMedia is considering a CNN streaming service that would complement but not replicate the linear network, similar to what the Fox News Channel has done with its Fox Nation subscription streaming service.
CNN has also reportedly made some recent hires that suggest a broader streaming strategy is in the works. According to the Wall Street Journal's Ben Mullin, the company recently hired Alex MacCallum, head of standalone products at the New York Times, to run its direct-to-consumer business.
CNN has produced original streaming content in the past. In 2017 it launched original content for its CNNgo app and also expanded its original content deal with streaming service Hulu. In 2019, the company debuted an app for the Magic Leap augmented reality goggles that offered live access to CNN, CNNi and HLN along with on-demand shows and digital exclusives.