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Tipsheet

'F***ing Crazy': CNN+ Employees React to Streaming Platform's Chaotic End

AP Photo/Ron Harris

The unceremonious death of CNN+ this week put the fledgling steaming platform out of its misery after a period time that didn't surpass the length of, among other things, Kim Kardashian's marriage to Kris Humphries, has unleashed renewed chaos within CNN. 

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The "most trusted" name in news has had a rough go of things in recent months, plagued by scandals, a parent company merger that upended the network's plans, lagging viewership, and a new boss. The launch and quick end to CNN+ has a broader impact than most immediately think of — it's not just the hosts who lost a platform and who will be fine in the long run, it's the staff hired as part of CNN's investment of hundreds of millions of dollars to launch the streaming platform who now bear the brunt of CNN's incompetence. 

According to Axios, "About 350 of the 700 people that work for CNN+ will be laid off with pay and benefits for the next 90 days" and "any employee that doesn't find a new role with the network will be granted at least six months' severance." Reactions within CNN are, predictably, not great. 

"This is f***ing crazy, it is nuts," a CNN insider told The New York Post. Newly out of work CNN+ employees are "aghast and furious" that their leadership could muck things up so badly. 

As The Post explains, "Network insiders were horrified to learn that all junior staffers at the streaming service were let go. The roughly 300 staffers were offered six months’ severance as well as first dibs on job opportunities within CNN, according to sources." Why someone would choose to work at CNN+ in the first place is a head-scratcher, but it seems unlikely that many would want to stick around in another department at CNN given the network's disastrous handling of its streaming platform. 

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Among many reasons CNN+ ended up as a cash-bloated failure, according to The Post's sources, is the way CNN+ "overspent on talent” as seen in ex-Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace's $9 million salary and former MSNBC anchor Kasie Hunt's $1 million per year. "The big people will likely be saved, but what about everybody else, the people who do the real work?" another source pondered to The Post. "The producers, showrunners? Some will get six months’ severance, others will not." 

The Post's source pointed out that a lot of finger pointing is aimed at the new executives of parent company Warner Bros. Discovery. "Many people left their stable jobs at CNN to go to CNN+, and then they pull it right after launch?” the source questioned exasperatedly. 

Following the internal announcement that CNN+ was headed for the trash can, The Washington Post reported that "astonished employees" called the decision "mind-blowing." WaPo also anonymously quoted a CNN employee who reacted to the news saying "[w]e expected them to cut off a few fingers, not the entire arm."

It looks like it was mostly a smart business decision on the part of Warner Bros. Discovery when executives saw that CNN+ was planning to spend some $1 billion to build, launch, and market the streaming platform in a bid to make a new profitable enterprise. But CNN+ was a minus on balance sheets in the short term, having lackluster subscription numbers out of the gate and not showing a likely path to the more than ten million subscribers its masterminds predicted could be reeled in within four years. 

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