How Much Would You Pay To Watch CNN?

How Much Would You Pay To Watch CNN?
Would you pay an extra $US6 ($8)/month for Anthony Bourdain's last show? (Image: CNN)

Everyone’s got their TV habits — if you skim any of my social media pages, for instance, you know I’m a sucker for 90’s television. We’re living in an age of streaming where you can pay for precisely the content you want to watch. And if cable news is your jam, then maybe CNN+ might become part of your lineup.

Today, the network announced that CNN+ will debut on March 29 in the US. It’ll cost $US6 ($8)/month or $US60 ($83)/year, depending on how you want it billed. Early subscribers that sign up within the first month will have access to the “Deal of a Lifetime” or 50% off the monthly plan as long as you stay subscribed throughout the tenure.

“March 29 will be an important day in the history of CNN and CNN+ will be a critical part of our future,” said Andrew Morse, CNN EVP, Chief Digital Officer and Head of CNN+, in the official press release.

I reached out to CNN to ask if the app would be available on streaming sticks and set-top boxes, such as Google TV and Roku. CNN will have more to share on that in the coming weeks. It’s also unclear if CNN+ will be available through cable providers like YouTube TV as an optional add-on.

CNN+ was introduced initially last summer, with its debut slated for the first quarter of this year, so it’s right on track. You’ll get live CNN, plus on-demand and interactive programming from the network if you decide to subscribe. The CNN+ app will also have some editorial curation on the front page, as most network-based streaming apps do to help you figure out what to watch.

So, what is there to watch on CNN besides news about the world burning down around you? CNN has a library of original programming, with shows like Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy, Parental Guidance with Anderson Cooper, and series like The Sixties and The Seventies, which offer an in-depth look at the headlines through the decades.

CNN also owns favourites like the late Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown, so you will need a CNN+ subscription to watch back episodes of the show. There’s an official listing of all the shows coming to CNN+ in another press release.

If you’re paying for cable TV or an over-the-air solution, like Sling TV and YouTube TV, you’ll still have access to CNN and the originals it airs as part of its live programming. But as is the case with all networks that have branched off into separate streaming offerings, they often save specialised content for the extra paying subscribers.

There was some uncertainty about whether CNN would get folded up into existing WarnerMedia properties as part of the merger. In an interview with Variety last year, Morse would not disclose any official plans to create a subscription bundle between CNN+, HBO Max, and other WarnerMedia services, which now include Discovery brands.

CNN isn’t the first cable news channel to venture off on its own in streaming land. MSNBC announced yesterday that it’s extracting shows from its live programming and publishing them directly to Peacock since they’re both under the NBC umbrella. It also plans to rebrand its existing channel, The Choice from MSNBC, into, more simply, the MSNBC Hub on Peacock. Peacock subscribers pay $US5 ($7)/month for ad-supported streaming.

These are the streaming wars now, and it’s every channel competing for your eyes and your direct dollars. It’ll be interesting to see if CNN and other cable news networks can build enough value out of its library of content that people feel inclined to pay on top of everything else. But it’s also concerning to realise you can pay for one specific news service and block out all others from your periphery.