CNN’s last foray into digital subscription products – CNN+ – was killed off after just a month in 2022. But the news giant still intends to monetize a portion of its 149 million web visitors via subscriptions under the direction of incoming CEO Mark Thompson, CNBC reports.
One idea being discussed is to build several subscription products that would serve different segments of CNN.com’s broader audience while keeping its core news output free to access. Paying subscribers could unlock on-demand or live CNN programming on specific subjects, for example, or gain access to particular pieces of in-depth journalism and other benefits.
Bleacher Report might also be integrated with CNN.com, just as NYT has done with The Athletic – the sports publisher it acquired last year for $550 million – and readers who want broad access could be offered an all-access bundle.
As Toolkits has noted previously, news publishers are increasingly moving away from broad catch-all subscriptions, opting instead to offer multiple subscription products designed to service the needs of more targeted and granular segments of their audiences.
Publishers such as The New York Times have spearheaded this strategy. News, cooking, crosswords and sports were once features of a broader “product” known as a newspaper. But as it’s shifted to digital, NYT has succeeded in repositioning each of those features as distinct products in consumers’ minds.
It stands to reason that Thompson, who starts at CNN on Oct. 9, will explore similar subscription approaches to the ones he employed in his prior role as NYT CEO. Under his leadership, NYT’s digital subscriber base grew from under 1 million to about 7 million subscribers when he left the company in September 2020.