Brian Stelter in Denial, Says it’s Too Soon to Determine if CNN+ is a Failure or Not

CNN+ will have its last day on April 30th. Brian Stelter, who has been one of the daily faces on CNN+ wants to make it clear that he believes it is a problem of management and not a failure of programming, “too early to know”. It seems those at CNN are in agreement with his idea that it is because Warner Bros. Discovery took over right after the launch of CNN+.

Stelter had Matt Belloni from Puck News on to discuss what happened with CNN+ and its’ demise. Stelter asks Belloni, “Have you seen anything like this happen before, in the media business?” Belloni responds, “NO, I mean no, and first of all I think I’m making history right now. I’ve never been on a program talking about the demise of that program.” Stelter laughs and says, “Well we’ve probably had more viewers now than ever before because there’s so much curiosity.”

Stelter then switches, “Let me try out a theory on you Matt. Which is it’s too early to know if this product if this service was a success or a failure. You’ve got all the haters today saying this thing was a failure, I don’t know if we can even ever asses that because it just simply didn’t have enough time because of the management change and direction. And at the end of the day, if you buy something you buy a giant media company, you get to do whatever you want with it. But it does mean there’s a lot of suffering for employees. And frankly disappointment among subscribers as a result.”

The theory posed by Stelter shows he seems to be taking the demise of CNN+ pretty hard. It seems he believes he is suffering the consequences of the takeover and continues to rationalize there is nothing wrong with CNN+ programing.

At another point in time maybe trying to hold those watching captive for as long as he could he goes “rouge” to thank all of the subscribers and supporters he calls the service a “worthy venture, outstanding experiment”. He then throws accolades on those who produced and directed the failed project.

Stelter and many may speculate others at CNN will hold to the story that they just weren’t given enough time to determine if CNN+ was a failure or not, just collateral damage in a takeover.

USA Today reported:

Chris Licht, the incoming chairman and CEO of CNN Worldwide, said in a statement Thursday the decision was made “to cease operations of CNN+ and focus our investment on CNN’s core news-gathering operations and in further building CNN Digital.”

“This is not a decision about quality; we appreciate all of the work, ambition, and creativity that went into building CNN+, an organization with terrific talent and compelling programming,” Licht said. “But our customers and CNN will be best served with a simpler streaming choice.”

Translation, for those who don’t speak corporate: Customers don’t need it, don’t want it and aren’t going to pay for it. Some programming may find its way to a single-destination streaming service that will combine Discovery+ and HBO Max. 

Quite a different tune from Stelter who is personally vested in CNN+. Chris Wallace left Fox News for his own show on CNN+ with its end date announced before even a month of broadcasting, what will come next for Wallace is this it for him? About half of the people who currently work for CNN+ are expected to be laid off after April.

The execution of CNN+, even if one could argue it wasn’t the programming was disastrous and ill-thought-out.