Thursday, April 14, 2022

CNN+ on Roku

There has been some coverage this week about CNN+, the subscription service that launched last month. Some of the news is good, and some of the news is bad. Maybe "bad" isn't the correct word. Perhaps "horrible" is a better word.

First, the good news for CNN+. The app finally launched on Roku. For the first two weeks following the service launch, the app was not available for the largest streaming platform. But that has been remedied. The app launched this week, according to Roku Blog.

The CNN channel (available now in the Roku Channel Store) will offer access to both CNN+ and live TV experiences, with easy navigation between the two. Existing pay TV customers can also enjoy the live TV experience that they’ve known for years, including access to CNN, CNN International, and HLN.

The service is $6/month or $60/year.

So, why did it take so long to get an app on Roku? Roku doesn't say. And CNN doesn't say. But you must remember that the four major streaming platforms all have different operating systems. That means you can't just take an app from one and expect it to work on another. And some of the other platforms have an advantage.

For Apple TV, for instance, tvOS is based on iOS and is similar to iPadOS, meaning they may be able to code the same app for iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV. And if not, the differences would be relatively minor.

With Fire TV, it's different. It's a different OS. But, as it's similar to Android, there isn't quite the learning curve necessary switching between coding for Android and Fire OS. They did manage to get an app out there for Fire OS, but interestingly enough, not for Android TV.

Roku is also different. It is totally different, and anything coded for Roku is pretty much limited to Roku. So, it may have taken the coding teams longer to complete.

And, of course, there are the agreements needed to have an app in the Channel Store. There is a process. And now that process is complete, and CNN+ is on Roku. That's the good news.

The bad news? Besides still not being available for Android TV? Well, it seems not many people are subscribing to the service, according to CNBC.

Fewer than 10,000 people are using CNN+ on a daily basis two weeks into its existence, according to people familiar with the matter.

The people spoke with CNBC on the condition of anonymity in order to discuss nonpublic data.

There were reports within days of launch about layoffs being planned. I didn't link those because I'm not certain how accurate those might be. The new head of CNN isn't even on the job yet, so I think talk like that is premature. That doesn't mean they won't happen after the new boss is in place, just that talk is premature.

I don't plan to subscribe to the service. I don't plan to even do a free trial. When I cut cable back in January 2011, TV news was one of the reasons I held out as long as I did. But after a few days, I found I didn't miss it. So any report of a news service being launched doesn't mean much to me. I can do without them. If I want to watch a bunch of noisy clowns on TV, I'll subscribe to the Circus Channel, not CNN+, Fox News, NBC-anything, or whatever. I'm so over TV news and the whole culture they exhibit.

I'm not saying I hope CNN+ fails. If someone wants it in their Streaming Life, they now have another option with the Roku app launch. But I won't be helping it survive.

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