AT&T confirms plan for CNN streaming service

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Last week, The Hollywood Reporter reported that “CNN Plus” will feature a mixture of live and on-demand programming with current CNN on-air talent like Anderson Cooper and Don Lemon. (Josh Hallett/Flickr)

AT&T’s WarnerMedia has been tied to reports about a new CNN streaming video service and late last week CEO John Stankey confirmed those plans.

The Hollywood Reporter’s Alex Weprin said Stankey affirmed his company’s intentions around CNN while speaking last week at The Economic Club in Washington, D.C.

"There’s been some rumors... about us launching a direct-to-consumer, CNN Plus news product, that will in fact occur. We’ll keep pushing ahead with those things,” he said.

Stankey’s comments solidify the reports and hints that have been dropping over the past few months regarding a new CNN streaming service. In April, WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar spoke to the DTC opportunity with CNN during an appearance on the Recode podcast.

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“I would argue that there’s an opportunity to do more than just those two things. I would argue that there’s an opportunity to take that franchise that is the incredible, talented team at CNN and have them manifest their journalism additionally through direct-to-consumer environments,” he said. “By the way, it’s very possible for us to have a linear HBO service and to have HBO Max. So, I would argue, using that analogy, that it’s absolutely possible for CNN to both have a linear channel…and be able to invent and serve customers in other ways over the internet.”

Last week, The Hollywood Reporter reported that “CNN Plus” will feature a mixture of live and on-demand programming with current CNN on-air talent like Anderson Cooper and Don Lemon. The service may also include interactive content.

AT&T is moving ahead with the CNN streaming service launch despite its recently announced deal to spinoff WarnerMedia and combine it will Discovery, Inc. Under the terms of the agreement, AT&T would receive $43 billion in a combination of cash, debt securities and WarnerMedia’s retention of certain debt. AT&T’s shareholders would receive stock representing 71% of the new company and Discovery shareholders would own 29% of the new company. The transaction is anticipated to close in mid-2022.