Warner Bros. Discovery plans to add live CNN programming to the streaming service Max later this year, according to people familiar with the matter, betting the news can help attract subscribers.
CNN’s owner has already decided to add live news to the service outside the US, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information was non-public.
Getting news about Max in the US could be tricky. Pay TV providers such as Comcast and DirecTV often pay for the right to offer cable channels to their subscribers and are sensitive to efforts by media companies to offer the same programming online.
Warner Bros. Discovery executives are weighing different approaches to offering live CNN programming on Max in the US, including some that don’t require renegotiating deals with TV providers, one person said.
In recent weeks, the team at Warner Bros. Discovery’s streaming operation began working on technical issues related to streaming live news on Max, the people said.
Warner Bros. Discovery introduced Max last month and has pitched the service to consumers as a mix of reality programming from Discovery and scripted shows and blockbuster movies from HBO Max. Executive director David Zaslav has said he will have more to say on news and sports in the fall.
News and sports don’t currently play a big role on Max, nor did they feature prominently on HBO Max, the previous version of the service. CNN has a few shows on Max, including shows hosted by Chris Wallace and Anderson Cooper. But those are not live.
While sports have been a major part of programming on rival streaming services Paramount+ and Peacock, it’s less clear what role news will play in the competition. Netflix funds hundreds of documentaries but has said it is not in the news business. Amazon.com and Apple don’t operate large video news services, while Paramount Global, Comcast and Walt Disney Co. have largely kept their news programming separate from their streaming entertainment services.
CNN, one of the world’s largest news organizations, has struggled to find its footing in the streaming age. Last year, the company shut down the CNN+ streaming service just weeks after it launched. The network also seeks stability in leadership. Earlier this month, CEO Chris Licht stepped down after a brief and tumultuous tenure at the network.
While CNN is widely distributed on satellite and cable TV systems around the world, having its programming live on Max could provide a significant boost to the network’s viewership.
CNN subscribers have fallen to 70 million this year from 85 million in 2020, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence. At the end of March, Warner Bros. Discovery had around 100 million streaming subscribers between HBO, HBO Max, and Discovery+.
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