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Aug. 31, 2023, 11:44 a.m.
Business Models
LINK:   ➚   |   Posted by: Laura Hazard Owen   |   August 31, 2023

It is a Sunday night in 2024 and you’ve settled down with Max [née HBO Max] to watch the premiere of the second season of House of the Dragon. Fifty-four minutes into the episode, at a particularly climactic moment, a CNN breaking news alert pops up on your TV: Dick Van Dyke has died at the age of 98.

This dream could become reality as soon as next month, when CNN launches a new 24/7 streaming channel on Max. Called CNN Max, it will serve as a “News beta [that] will let our team experiment with product features and content.” (Do not call it CNN+.) As Variety reported last week:

Among the features the company will try out are ways of alerting Max viewers to breaking news while they are watching something else on the service, whether it be an HBO series, a Turner Classic Movies selection or an old episode of Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.”

In a year of too much CNN news, the last two weeks of August have seen the announcements proliferate. This week, Warner Bros. Discovery announced that Mark Thompson, the former New York Times CEO and director-general of the BBC, will become its chief executive starting October 9, and will also act as the network’s editor-in-chief.

From The New York Times:

A top challenge for Mr. Thompson at CNN will be its transition to a more digital-focused future as the cable business declines. Several CNN executives reached Wednesday said they believed that he would have a broad mandate to impose changes at the network. CNN has already begun testing a registration wall on its website, according to a person with knowledge of the change, who said it could be an early step toward eventually charging CNN’s readers for online access.

Thompson envisioned that The New York Times would have 10 million digital subscribers by 2025 — and the Times reached that goal in 2022. “At CNN, the challenges — and the historic moment — are different,” Margaret Sullivan wrote in The Guardian Thursday. “Thompson needs to right the ship at a moment when news coverage really matters to the public good.”

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