Kasie Hunt Hired to Co-Anchor CNN+ Streaming Service

Former NBC News correspondent and MSNBC anchor Kasie Hunt has been hired by CNN as a new anchor and chief national affairs analyst for the network and its pending subscription streaming service, CNN+, launching in 2022. The hiring was announced Aug. 10 by CNN president Jeff Zucker.

Hunt, whose show will be about politics, will be based in Washington, D.C., and begins her new position on Sept. 7.

CNN+ joins Peacock and Paramount+, all of which are moving aggressively into live news streaming. The pending Fox Weather streaming platform will focus on live forecasts and related programming.

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WarnerMedia Launching CNN+ Streaming Service in Q1 2022

Calling it the most important launch since billionaire Ted Turner bowed the Cable News Network in 1980, WarnerMedia is hiring 450 staffers to help launch a branded subscription streaming video service in early 2022.

Dubbed CNN+, the venture joins a SVOD market saturated with myriad entertainment alternatives, and some news offerings. Fox News has Fox Nation and Paramount+ is streaming CBSN and other news-related content. Pricing for CNN+ was not disclosed.

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The platform will focus on video with a dedicated staff working in parallel with more than 4,000 CNN personnel around the world.

“CNN invented cable news in 1980, defined online news in 1995 and now is taking an important step in expanding what news can be by launching a direct-to-consumer streaming subscription service in 2022,” Jeff Zucker, chairman of WarnerMedia News and Sports and president of CNN Worldwide, said in July 19 statement.

The platform comes as more consumers are dropping pay-TV bundles for specific standalone over-the-top video alternatives. CNN reportedly generates $1 billion in annual revenue from its legacy TV networks worldwide.

“On top of a television offering that has never been stronger, which remains at the core of what we do today, we will offer consumers a streaming product that grows the reach and scope of the CNN brand in a way that no one else is doing. Nothing like this exists,” Zucker said.

The platform will be headed by Andrew Morse, chief digital officer, with upwards of 12 hours of live programming daily, original series, catalog content and localized features presented by existing and newly hired on-air talent.

CNN+ will launch with a deep library of nonfiction, long-form programming including past seasons of CNN’s award-winning original series and films, including “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown,” “Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy,” “This is Life With Lisa Ling” and “United Shades of America” with W. Kamau Bell.

Additionally, CNN+ will build upon that library with new original series and films developed for CNN+, which will be unveiled later this year.

CNN will continue to have a single app where CNN+ subscribers can access CNN+ programing and pay-TV subs can get the “TV Everywhere” experience. The app will include CNN’s linear TV feeds of CNN, CNN International, HLN and CNN en Español channels, which will be available exclusively for pay TV subscribers. Pay-TV subs can also subscribe to CNN+ to access the full CNN+ programming all in one place.

“We are going to take a pretty big swing here, and the company’s behind it,” Morse told CNN. “It’s not going to be a news headline service.”

CNN to Launch ‘CNN+’ SVOD Service

Following competitor Fox News’ launch of Fox Nation in 2018, CNN reportedly will launch a branded subscription streaming service next year dubbed “CNN+” and featuring the network’s media personalities.

The move comes as CNN parent WarnerMedia is merging with Discovery to rebrand as Warner Bros. Discovery in 2022. The new company will be run by Discovery CEO David Zaslav, who said he plans to ramp up investment in CNN going forward.

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The Wall Street Journal, citing sources familiar with the situation, said the CNN+ programming would be complementary — not a replacement — to the premium network. The platform would operate and be priced similarly to Disney’s ESPN+, which offers programming separate from the flagship ESPN network.

In addition to Fox News, NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming service features progressive news/commentary platform The Choice, as well as NBC News Now. The Paramount+ SVOD platform offers CBS News.

WarnerMedia Nabs 30 Nominations for the 27th Annual Vision Awards

WarnerMedia March 16 announced it earned 30 nominations for the 27th Annual Vision Awards, presented by the National Association for Multi-ethnicity in Communications (NAMIC), which honors inclusive programming mirroring the lives, spirit and contributions of people of color in their diverse viewing audiences.

WarnerMedia’s brands CNN, HBO Max, Turner Classic Movies, Turner Sports, and Warner Bros. Television, among others, were represented in 15 different categories. Both HBO and TBS dominated “Best Comedy Performance” scoring all the nominations within that category. This year’s Vision Award winners will be announced in April.

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WarnerMedia in September 2019 released its first-ever annual report looking at diversity, inclusion and belonging across both its corporate operations and the films, television series and digital content created by its various production businesses.

Vision Awards nominees include:

“CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute” (CNN)

Best Comedy Performance:

Jay Ellis: “Insecure” (HBO)
Issa Rae: “Insecure” (HBO)
Michaela Coel: “I May Destroy You” (HBO )
Tracy Morgan: “The Last O.G.” (TBS)
Yvonne Orji: “Insecure” (HBO)

Best Performance – Drama:
Jonathan Majors: Lovecraft Country (HBO | Warner Bros. Television)
Jurnee Smollett: Lovecraft Country (HBO | Warner Bros. Television)

Children’s:
“Coming Together: Standing Up to Racism” (CNN & Sesame Street) (CNN)
“We Are the Dream: The Kids of the Oakland MLK Oratorical Fest” (HBO)

Comedy:
“Betty” (HBO)
“I May Destroy You” (HBO)
“Insecure” (HBO)
“The Last O.G.” (TBS)

Digital Media – Short Form:
“African Voices: Miss Universe” (CNN)
“Blackface and Hollywood: A TCM Original Production” (Turner Classic Movies)

Documentary:
“First Ladies: Michelle Obama” (CNN)

Drama:
“All Rise” (Warner Bros. Television)
“Lovecraft Country” (HBO | Warner Bros. Television)

Foreign Language:
“Veneno” (HBO Max)

News/Informational:
“Seeing America with Megan Rapinoe” (HBO)

Original Movie or Special:
“Between the World and Me” (HBO)

Reality:
“We’re Here” (HBO)

Reality – Social Issues:
“United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell” (CNN)

Sports:
“Field of Dreams…Deferred” (Turner Sports)
“Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” (HBO)
“The Shop: Uninterrupted” (HBO)

Variety/Talk Show:
“HA Festival: The Art of Comedy” (HBO Max)
“The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Reunion” (HBO Max)
“Yvonne Orji: Momma, I Made It!” (HBO)

 

WarnerMedia Launches Voter Engagement Platform

Seeking to make voting in the upcoming presidential election as easy as possible for employees and viewers, WarnerMedia Sept. 22 announced the launch of a nonpartisan voter engagement resource center, aimed at providing the tools necessary to take part in the Nov. 3 election. The center provides access to the company’s civic engagement efforts, including voter registration support, programming and key partnerships.

The AT&T unit, which includes Warner Bros., HBO and Turner, is encouraging registered voters to pledge to vote as well as enlist their friends, families and colleagues to do the same. To help make that a reality, WarnerMedia is collaborating with Rock the VoteVoto LatinoWhen We All VoteNAACP Legal Defense FundShe Se Puede and Color of Change.

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The move comes as the politically divided country prepares for the Nov. 3 election day, with allegations of voter suppression efforts in some parts of the country.

“In today’s climate, it is more important than ever to be prepared with a voting plan, make sure you are registered to vote, and know your state’s absentee ballot rules and regulations,” Dennis Williams, SVP of corporate social responsibility at WarnerMedia, said in a statement.

Williams said the media giant is coordinating its online voter engagement hub, programming and collaborations with third party organizations, to encourage all “our fans and employees around the country to engage in the democratic process and ensure their vote is counted.”

WarnerMedia’s brands featuring civic-minded programming and information include “Citizen by CNN,” the network’s civic engagement platform introducing tools that aim to connect users to personalized, local information about candidates, voting and issues. The tool will help users discover local information on where/how to vote, allow them to stay up to date on important changes to voting information, and empower them to get information to feel confident casting their ballot.

WarnerMedia is also helping make sure everyone is counted in the 2020 United States Census. Young children are missed in the census for a multitude of reasons, but confusion about who goes on the form is a major one. Nearly 40% of children under five live in complex households, where they may split time between homes, be cared for by foster parents, grandparents, or other relatives, or their caregivers may be housing-insecure. Uncertainty about who counts on the census questionnaire is only magnified if the child lives in a linguistically isolated household.

“Through a bilingual kit developed on ‘Sesame Street,’ we’re striving to close this gap,” Williams said.

WarnerMedia also has a series of related programming lined up with the goal being to increase participation in the election. A few of the productions include:A West Wing Special to Benefit When We All Vote”; “On The Trail: Inside the 2020 Primaries”; “Siempre, Luis”; “Stockton on My Mind”; “John Lewis: Good Trouble”; and “American Utopia.”

“‘When We All Vote’ is on a mission to change the culture around voting, which means we have to reach people where they are,” Crystal Carson, VP of culture, communications and media partnerships for When We All Vote, said in a statement. “That’s why we are proud to collaborate with WarnerMedia to encourage eligible voters to register and make a plan to cast their ballot this election.”

Carolyn Dewitt, executive director of Rock the Vote, said working with WarnerMedia has help empower the media company’s employees and audiences with information and resources needed to make their voices heard in the 2020 election.

“WarnerMedia understands the power of its platform to reach millions of eligible voters and takes that responsibility seriously by creating a culture of civic engagement for all WarnerMedia family,” DeWitt said.

HBO Max Acquires ‘Ravi Patel’s Pursuit of Happiness’ Docu-Comedy Series

HBO Max has acquired CNN Original Series “Ravi Patel’s Pursuit of Happiness,” premiering Aug. 27 on the subscription streaming video service. The four-part buddy comedy docuseries follows actor/documentarian/philanthropist Patel (“Meet the Patels”) as he travels the world seeking answers surrounding life’s universal questions.

Both CNN and HBO Max are owned and operated by AT&T’s WarnerMedia Entertainment.

At each stop, Patel is joined by a friend or family member, with whom he shares a big conflict or question about life. He travels to Mexico with his parents to discuss retirement and aging; Japan with his wife to explore parenting and gender roles; Korea with his entrepreneur friend to confront their issues with work/life balance; Denmark with his Muslim friend to explore an immigration crisis not unlike ours here in America.

“I’m obsessed with trying new things and getting better,” Patel said in a statement. “With the world in such a crazy place right now, maybe this show is what some of us need, if anything for a laugh or two.”

Lizzie Fox, SVP of nonfiction programming at HBO Max, said Patel’s interactions and lessons learned throughout his travels will resonate with viewers, “showing that we are truly all connected and have more in common than we think.”

Patel’s documentary work began when he co-directed and starred in “Meet the Patels,” in 2014. As an actor, he’s appeared in Transformers, Netflix’s “Master of None,” SXSW’s comedy “Come As You Are,” and Seth Rogen’s Long Shot. He co-created and stars in “Bhaag Beanie Bhaag,” premiering this fall on Netflix, and will also be seen in the upcoming film Wonder Woman 1984.

CNN, Fox News Continue Monthly Digital Viewership Battle

With President Trump regularly politicizing news coverage on CNN and Fox News (and other media outlets), both media companies have gone on the offense touting monthly digital viewership and market penetration.

CNN June 16 proclaimed it had “172 million U.S. Unique Visitors in May,” or 64% of the domestic Internet population, according to Comscore.

Fox News Digital said it finished May tracking double-digit increases versus the prior year across several performance indicators, including multiplatform views (up 17% from May 2019) and multiplatform unique visitors (up 12% increase).

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It claimed a sixth consecutive month with more than 100 million multiplatform unique visitors, adding that its Fox News Mobile App finished ahead of the CNN Mobile App for the 18th month in a row in unique visitors (8.5 million vs. CNN’s 7 million), and its third month scoring over 8 million unique visitors.

CNN countered that CNN.com had 151 Million mobile unique visitors in May compared with 94 million for FoxNews.com. The WarnerMedia property had 668 Million multiplatform video starts in April compared with 379 million for Fox.

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Among millennials (between the ages of 18-34), CNN touted 46 million unique multiplatform visitors compared with 21 million for Fox. For political coverage, CNN reported 74 million multiplatform unique visitors in May compared with 29.7 million unique visitors for Fox News Politics.

Meanwhile, Fox said its online coronavirus landing page was the top category page on the site in terms of page views and visitors spent five times longer on Fox News Digital’s coronavirus landing page than CNN’s live blog, according to data from SimilarWeb.

Fox News Digital Eyes Double-Digit Viewing Increase in April

Fox News Digital said it finished the month of April with double-digit viewership increases, including multiplatform views (up 26% from April 2019), multiplatform minutes (19%) and multiplatform unique visitors (20%).

Fox attributed the increase to viewer interest in the coronavirus pandemic.

The network, citing ComScore data, also reported new highs in multiplatform unique visitors (121.5 million), total multiplatform views (1.9 billion) and total multiplatform minutes (4.5 billion minutes). This April marked the second-highest month of multiplatform unique visitors, coming only behind March 2020, as well as notched the network’s fifth consecutive month with over 100 million multiplatform unique visitors.

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Fox said its branded mobile news app topped CNN’s app in viewers with 8.7 million unique visitors compared to 7.3 million for CNN.

Multi-Platform Total Minutes
Fox News Digital – 4.5 billion (up 19%)
CNN.com – 5.4 billion (up 90%)

Multi-Platform Total Views
Fox News Digital – 1.97 billion (up 26%)
CNN.com – 2.93 billion (up 100%)

Multi-Platform Unique Visitors
FOX News Digital – 121.5 million (up 20%)
CNN.com – 165 million (up 33%)

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Randall Stephenson’s Legacy: Backing Media in Partisan Era

Just hours after AT&T announced that its CEO Randall Stephenson would be stepping down in July after 13 years, President Donald Trump called Stephenson’s departure “great news!” in reference to WarnerMedia’s ownership of CNN, which the president often clashes with.

“Randall Stephenson, the CEO of heavily indebted AT&T, which owns and presides over Fake News @CNN, is leaving, or was forced out. Anyone who lets a garbage ‘network’ do and say the things that CNN does, should leave ASAP. Hopefully replacement will be much better!” Trump tweeted April 24 on social media.

Stephenson’s departure comes as AT&T grapples with shrinking pay-TV subscribers at DirecTV and AT&T U-verse, an online TV misfire with DirecTV Now (rebranded as AT&T TV), and $163 billion in debt — a figure that grew by $5.5 billion earlier this month following a third-party loan during the coronavirus pandemic.

Some have speculated the DOJ’s repeated attempts to nix AT&T’s $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner (and formation of WarnerMedia Entertainment) in 2016 stemmed from the president’s public animosity toward CNN.

“CNN’s job is not to be popular with the president,” Stephenson said at the time of the merger. “CNN’s job is really simple: It’s the job of all media: to hold people in power accountable.”

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Strong words from a CEO who often criticized government regulation, welcomed Trump’s corporate tax cut and was frequently accused of telling Wall Street that he preferred taking care of shareholders over consumers.

Indeed, in the first quarter (ended March 31), AT&T’s dividends paid for common shares totaling $3.7 billion (up 47% since 2017) and the company repurchased 142 million of its common shares for $4.7 billion.

Stephenson made headlines in 2017, when, as National Chair of the Boy Scouts of America, he criticized Trump’s address at the Boy Scouts of America’s annual Jamboree in West Virginia.

Trump had turned his speech into a partisan political rally, criticizing Obamacare, reiterating his 2016 election victory over Hillary Clinton, reportedly asking for greater loyalty from scouts and their parents and criticizing former President Barack Obama for not attending the Jamboree — a tradition among presidents since Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1937.

“Anyone knows his speeches get highly political — we anticipated that this could be the case,” Stephenson told The Associated Press. “Do I wish the president hadn’t gone there and hadn’t been political? Of course.”

Stephenson’s dogged defense of CNN continued despite some concern on Wall Street the global network founded by billionaire Ted Turner could undermine AT&T’s businesses going forward.

“This is one of those issues you just ask, ‘What is the right thing to do?'” Stephenson said at a Wall Street Journal forum as reported by The Dallas Morning News. “And then you do the right thing.”

Craig Moffett, analyst with MoffettNathanson, said Stephenson leaves behind a company that transformed from telecom operator to media conglomerate.

“But the jury is still out if the transformation is for better or worse,” Moffett told CNBC.

CNN Records Largest Digital Audience In History In January

WarnerMedia Entertainment’s CNN news division began 2020 with the highest audience numbers in its history for both total audience and mobile audience, outpacing all competitors for nearly four years for U.S. unique visitors, nearly five years for video and nine months for global unique visitors.

Citing ComScore monthly data, CNN’s digital audience in the U.S. in January was a record 148 million unique visitors and a record 128 million mobile unique visitors. CNN held the position as the #1 global digital news brand in December 2019.

Adobe Analytics data revealed record CNN global traffic in January as well, and underscored the brand’s strength in the U.S., ranking again as the #1 digital news outlet in January in the key categories of multi-platform unique visitors, mobile unique visitors, multi-platform video starts (Dec. 2019), millennial unique visitors and political unique visitors.

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CNN saw a larger global audience than any other news platform in the world in December 2019, with 165 million unique multi-platform visitors, 20 million more than second place BBC and 37 million more than third place The Daily Mail. Other top sites included: Yahoo News – 123 million unique visitors; The New York Times – 118 million unique visitors; FoxNews.com – 104 million unique visitors.

CNN posted 148 million unique multi-platform visitors domestically in January. This was 34 million more unique visitors than second-place Fox News and 41 million more unique visitors than The New York Times.

Others included NBCNews.com – 93.3 million unique visitors; WashingtonPost.com – 92.6 million unique visitors; DailyMail.co.uk – 89 million unique visitors.

CNN’s mobile audience continued to top 100 million unique visitors in January with an all-time record of 128 million mobile unique visitors – 33 million more mobile unique visitors than both second-place Fox News and third-place The New York Times. Others included Dailymail.co.uk – 84 million unique visitors; NBCNews.com – 83 million unique visitors; WashingtonPost.com – 79 million unique visitors.

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CNN again ranked as #1 in digital video with 522 million multi-platform video starts, generating 210 million more video starts than its nearest competitor Fox News in December 2019. Others included Yahoo News – 290 million video starts; ABCNews.com Sites – 153 million video starts; MSN News – 123 million video starts; MSNBC TV – 116 million video starts.

CNN saw a larger audience of millennial multi-platform unique visitors (between the ages of 18-34) than any other competitor in January with 42 million. Others included The New York Times – 30 million millennial unique visitors; Dailymail.co.uk – 28 million millennial unique visitors; WashingtonPost.com – 27 million millennial unique visitors; NBCNews.com – 24 million millennial unique visitors, and FoxNews.com – 23 million millennial unique visitors.

CNN continued to reign on top of all political news sources at the start of Election Year 2020, as the #1 ranked political news destination in January with 58 million multi-platform unique visitors, 50 million mobile unique visitors and 74 million multi-platform video starts (December 2019) .

January was the second biggest month ever for CNN politics mobile audience behind December 2019. CNN has remained the #1 online political news outlet since March 2015 when the first person declared their candidacy for president in the 2016 race.

Other top political platforms include TheHill.com –34 million unique visitors; Politico.com – 31 million unique visitors; Fox News Politics– 24 million unique visitors; MSNBC TV – 15.4 million unique visitors and NBCNews.com Politics – 14.7 million unique visitors.