Warner Bros. Discovery to Add CNN Channel to Max Streaming Service


CNN is moving a step closer to its digital future.

The cable news network will start a 24-hour streaming channel on Max beginning on Sept. 27, Warner Bros. Discovery, the parent company of both CNN and Max, said on Thursday.

The CNN Max channel will feature distinct live programming, including a streaming-only news program hosted by the veteran anchor Jim Sciutto, and, in a more unusual move, it will also livestream several programs from the cable network, the company said.

The overlap will include at least four hours of cable shows like “The Lead With Jake Tapper,” “The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer” and “Anderson Cooper 360.” The cable shows will stream at the same time they appear on cable, JB Perrette, the president of global streaming at Warner Bros. Discovery, said in an interview.

CNN, as well as competitors like Fox News, has generally shied away from delivering live programming from its mother ship cable network at the same time on streaming channels, usually out of fear that it would run afoul of lucrative agreements with major cable operators.

Still, some companies have started to make moves. NBCUniversal began streaming a MSNBC mainstay, “Morning Joe,” and the CNBC morning show, “Squawk Box,” started airing live on its Peacock streaming service this year.

Mr. Perrette said that the company would be “respectful” of the agreements with distributors but emphasized that they were within their rights to livestream some cable shows. He also said that the CNN Max lineup was not yet finalized and that it was possible more live programming from CNN’s cable network could be incorporated into the streaming channel.

“We’re very cognizant of what we can and can’t do,” he said.

The endeavor is hardly CNN’s first foray into streaming. CNN+, the expensive and short-lived streaming-only channel, was shut down within weeks after Warner Bros. and Discovery merged in April 2022. The channel featured programming distinct from the cable news network, including shows like “Jake Tapper’s Book Club” and “Parental Guidance With Anderson Cooper.” The new Warner Bros. Discovery management team, however, held a dim view of that approach.

When shutting down the service, Mr. Perrette invoked social media posts that had called the service “CNN Minus” because it did not include any of the cable news network’s actual programming, which he referred to in a meeting with staff as “the global calling card of this news organization.”

“If you’re going to put CNN on as a service, the consumer expectation is live news,” Mr. Perrette said in the interview. “All the rest of that stuff — parenting tips, lifestyle — that’s all fine, but that’s peripheral. The core bull’s-eye is live news.”

Streaming news channels is nothing new, of course. ABC and CBS have had digital offerings for years. NBCUniversal has said that its NBC News Now digital channel, which debuted in 2019, is already profitable.

Several media companies, including the Walt Disney Company, which owns ESPN, are beginning to weigh when and how they can begin delivering their live cable programming via streaming.

“We haven’t said when, but we do know that it will happen,” Disney’s chief executive, Robert A. Iger, told CNBC last month.

For CNN, the changes are coming while it is looking for a full-time leader. Warner Bros. Discovery is in talks with several candidates, including Mark Thompson, a former top executive at The New York Times and The BBC, to replace Chris Licht, who was fired in June.

Mr. Perrette said that CNN Max would debut with a “beta moniker,” allowing the company to tinker with the service. One possibility: When a viewer is watching an HBO show, like “And Just Like That,” on Max, a banner at the bottom of the screen could appear indicating that there is a breaking news story being covered on the CNN Max channel.

In addition to Mr. Sciutto’s show, CNN Max will have other distinct live programming, including a streaming-only show anchored by Jim Acosta, Rahel Solomon, Amara Walker and Fredricka Whitfield.


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