In interviews, several CNN+ staffers said they were frustrated Discovery made what they see as a snap judgment and said the new owners should have been more open to input, given Discovery’s lack of experience in the news business.
Still, several staffers said they were concerned, even before the launch, about the service’s business strategy. One producer noted that CNN+ launched without any way for users to sample it—unlike Apple TV+, for example, which initially gave people purchasing new Apple devices a year of free service.
One challenge was that CNN+ didn’t carry live programming from the CNN TV channel. Doing so without the support of cable providers who carry the channel could jeopardize lucrative distribution contracts. CNN+ did plan to add live TV and held talks with major providers before the service’s launch, including about the possibility of distributing the app through their set-top boxes, two people familiar with the planning said.