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REPORT: Is It Over for CNN+?

Sekulow Radio Show / Jay Sekulow & Jordan Sekulow
The Truth Network Radio
April 20, 2022 3:23 pm

REPORT: Is It Over for CNN+?

Sekulow Radio Show / Jay Sekulow & Jordan Sekulow

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April 20, 2022 3:23 pm

New reports suggest that it may be over for CNN's latest attempt at a comeback. CNN pulled the plug on their new CNN+ streaming service. Senator James Lankford joins the show followed by successful entrepreneur and television producer Eric Bischoff, who has experience dealing with executives at CNN's new parent company, Discovery WarnerMedia. Logan and the rest of the Sekulow team discuss. This and more today on Sekulow.

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This is Logan Sekulow. New reports suggest it may be over for CNN's latest attempt at a comeback. Keeping you informed and engaged, now more than ever, this is Sekulow. CNN is pulling the plug on millions of dollars for their CNN Plus streaming service. According to new reporting from Axios today, Warner Brothers Discovery, a new parent company, suspended all external advertising spending for the new service and laid off CNN's longtime chief financial officer. We want to hear from you.

Share and post your comments or call 1-800-684-3110. The network spent around $300 million on the service, including a sizable marketing budget, splashy hires like former Fox News star Chris Wallace, ESPN vets, Carrie Champion and Jamel Hill, among others. And now your host, Logan Sekulow. Welcome to Sekulow.

This is Logan Sekulow in for my dad and brother today. We've got an interesting show lined up for you, a lot of special guests. What we are leading with is a new report that came out of Axios yesterday, but something that's been talked about for the last number of weeks. And that is that CNN Plus, the CNN streaming service no one asked for, is shockingly already scheduled for defeat, if you will, or is doomed. A lot of numbers are coming out. They really wanted to get to 2 million subscribers in the first year, and they had planned a 15 to 18 million subscriber count by the first few years, breaking even in year four. And what we've seen is in just the first day alone, they were able to get about 18,000 downloads. There are rumors that there's up to maybe now 100,000 or 150,000 subscribers.

A lot of those not paid, a lot of those partially paid. They were offering at one point 50% off for life to join CNN Plus. To give you a little bit of perspective, Quibi, a social media video service which is short form videos, launched, you may remember it, Steven Spielberg was behind it, a lot of people, top executives, a lot of CNN, some alternative people were behind it. And it launched its opening day at roughly 300,000 downloads the first day, and obviously, as we all know, quickly went under as well. Because this is a very expensive endeavor.

People don't even understand the prices of launching your own streaming service. And they brought in some top tier talent. You know, from over at Fox News, they called in the heavy hitters like Chris Wallace, who came in, and then all of a sudden you had a bunch of t-shirt wearing, like me, t-shirt wearing versions of their current lineup. Yeah, the leather jacket Anderson Cooper and the, you know.

Kind of a felt jacket. Jake Tapper. Jake Tapper with his book club, right?

Yeah, and it's all very lifestyle programming. It doesn't really fit the CNN brand. If you're a hardcore fan, if there are any still of CNN, this is not what you, I don't think you want.

And it comes during a time where this project took, you know, a year plus to launch, from announcement to plus, to launch. And now you have a brand new regime at CNN. We already have seen mass changes happening there as they attempt to once again fix this brand that I do believe holds a lot of value. If anything, we can see when it comes to the situation in Ukraine. At that moment, not a lot of people were doing a better job than CNN because they have these giant, you know, staffs that are on the ground, especially or even Afghanistan originally.

Great coverage coming in from CNN. There are people that are doing great jobs. However, this is the new project and we are seeing failure.

Now, this could be because of many different reasons. Number one, look at the numbers of CNN in general. Where did they think they were going to get that number? How are you going to get to 15 to 18 million people watching when you don't have a quarter of that watching your network? See, that's, I think people are looking at it the wrong way. I think actually this is a huge success because it seems like with roughly 150,000 subscribers, they got every primetime viewer of CNN to subscribe.

That's 100% conversion, I think. And this is what came out this morning and the reason we're talking about it. Warner Brothers Discovery, which by the way, if you don't know, Warner Brothers just recently merged with Discovery, which is, you know, Warner Brothers owns Time Warner and CNN. They said Warner Brothers Discovery has suspended all external marketing spends for CNN Plus.

That means you're not going to see a CNN Plus ad or marketing beyond CNN and has laid off CNN's longtime chief financial officer who is being replaced immediately. We're going to take some calls on this. We also have special guests coming up 1-800-684-3110. Next segment, we're going to move a little bit.

We have Senator James Lankford from Oklahoma. He'll be joining us. We're going to talk immigration for just a segment and then we're going right back to this. And then later in the show, my special guest, one of our friends, former Turner executive Eric Bischoff, will be joining us to talk about a merger he went through and what the media landscape looks like right now in Turner and overall. It should be a really interesting conversation that's going to be later in the broadcast. Again, give us a call.

1-800-684-3110. We'll be right back. At the American Center for Law and Justice, we're engaged in critical issues at home and abroad, whether it's defending religious freedom, protecting those who are persecuted for their faith. I'm covering corruption in the Washington bureaucracy and fighting to protect life in the courts and in Congress. The ACLJ would not be able to do any of this without your support.

For that, we are grateful. Now there's an opportunity for you to help in a unique way. For a limited time, you can participate in the ACLJ's matching challenge. For every dollar you donate, it will be matched. A $10 gift becomes $20.

A $50 gift becomes $100. This is a critical time for the ACLJ. The work we do simply would not occur without your generous support.

Take part in our matching challenge today. You can make a difference in the work we do, protecting the constitutional and religious freedoms that are most important to you and your family. Give a gift today online at ACLJ.org. Only when a society can agree that the most vulnerable and voiceless deserve to be protected is there any hope for that culture to survive. And that's exactly what you are saying when you stand with the American Center for Law and Justice to defend the right to life. We've created a free, powerful publication offering a panoramic view of the ACLJ's battle for the unborn.

It's called Mission Life. It will show you how you are personally impacting the pro-life battle through your support. And the publication includes a look at all major ACLJ pro-life cases. How we're fighting for the rights of pro-life activists. Ramifications of Roe v. Wade 40 years later. Planned Parenthood's role in the abortion industry. And what Obamacare means to the pro-life movement. Discover the many ways your membership with the ACLJ is empowering the right to life.

Request your free copy of Mission Life today online at ACLJ.org slash gift. Welcome back to Secular. We're continuing the discussion right now about the recent news coming out this morning from CNN Plus as it seems to be a doomed platform and what this means for CNN in general. We know they have been going through a tough time. We've had a lot of shakeups on air.

We had a lot of shakeups behind the scenes, whether that's Chris Cuomo or whether that's Zuck or any of these guys who have been a part of leading CNN and really prime time CNN over the last decade or so. So we've seen that major change already happen. But now you see them launch a brand new service with really unrealistic goals if we're being completely honest. And again, they wanted to launch with 2 million subscribers within the first year. Break even in three to four years with 15 to 18 million subscribers. And what happened is about 18,000 people downloaded on the first day. And they said that number is over 150,000 people. Now, again, numbers can be a little misleading comes to these streaming providers. And I work in this industry.

We have looked at developing our own sort of service as well. It is an incredibly expensive thing to do. Plus, you're talking about pretty top tier talent that they moved over. Now, some of those people are under seeing a contract. I guarantee you they have to do more. They had to pay them a little more. Come up with something.

You're asking to do a lot more work. So whether that's Jake Tapper's book club, The Don Lemon Show, Brian Stelter. Was it Everyday Will? Stelter has the daily reliable sources now, which I don't understand why anyone would want to pay for seven days of Stelter. But I mean, it's it's an option. You can watch reliable sources every day. But that's also the thing about using the top tier talent and the people on CNN that try to be more hard news like Jake Tapper or Anderson Cooper. They're not as opinion host type driven as some of the people you see on Fox Nation that have carryover shows. So when they're doing a streaming show and the person you're supposed to take seriously in a war zone or take seriously talking about an issue like immigration or Supreme Court decisions or things, all of a sudden are wearing the leather jacket or wearing the flannel jacket, talking about their favorite books they're reading currently. I don't know if it translates and I don't know if that's what people want from those hosts.

Yeah. And I think maybe they didn't estimate what the fan base actually was wanted nor who they were providing it to. And again, when you have live news, 24 seven news that is top tier news, you don't necessarily always want more news. I think what we've learned is that people watch their show a night, their two shows, unless you're maybe even a Fox News watcher, maybe they watch the whole block.

A lot of people watch what they watch every night. And that's it. Now to pivot a little off of that, we are joined by Senator James Lankford, longtime friend of the broadcast. And he's obviously a senator for Oklahoma. And we're talking about a new bill. Well, you can kind of describe it here.

That's right. Senator, you've introduced the Public Health and Border Security Act along with it's a bipartisan coalition of senators. You said maybe one of the more bipartisan coalitions in recent history. So what does this bill, the Public Health and Border Security Act, what's it do and why do you think it is so important right now? Yeah, incredibly important right now.

Thanks for the subject you all always stay on to be able to talk about. But we're focused in on what's happening on the border. President Biden has said that he wants to lift what's called Title 42, which is a public health issue that affects a lot of different things that have happened during the pandemic all across our economy and across the executive branch. But he wants to lift the pandemic restrictions on the border, but keep them in place in other areas. And we just said that's nonsensical. You can't say the pandemic's over at the border, but it's still present on airplanes and still present all these other places.

You can't do that. We're literally firing members of the military right now because they're not getting the COVID shot, but opening up the borders to be able to say to people, you can come across because the pandemic's over. That's nonsensical. So our basic bill does two things.

I think we're having some connection problems with Senator Lankford. We'll redial and we'll get some more questions in. Well, but it does bring up some interesting points as we've seen restrictions being let. We also saw, as we talked about just yesterday on the broadcast, that airlines have changed their rules. So, of course, they're going to be changing their rules.

But when there's no plan in action, more chaos can break out. That's right. And like we talked about the federal judge out of Florida that struck down the mandate to wear masks on planes. There was a federal mandate put in place by the Biden administration there. The Justice Department yesterday said they will appeal that if the if the CDC deems it necessary. So I guess my question for the senator is if the DOJ is still trying to decide whether or not it's necessary for restrictions on United States citizens.

First one to go. Why was the first one to go a restriction on non-U.S. citizens pandemic era restriction? One hundred percent agree on that, by the way.

I actually put a message out on social media last night that said almost that exact same thing. But why are they focused in on putting more restrictions on Americans and fewer restrictions on people illegally crossing the border? That makes absolutely no sense. And the same thing for members of the military. They're still firing members of the military if they don't get a COVID shot. But on the border, those folks are fine to be able to come in without a COVID shot. It's not required. And the pandemic's going to go over at the border, but they've still got to have the shot if they're in the military.

And it just makes no sense at all. So the bill that I'm putting forward. I think we're just going to have to go ahead and sit there like we lost you there for a moment. Go ahead.

Number one, you got to lift all at once. You can't just do bits and pieces for two. You've got to actually. I think we're just going to have to tell Senator Lakeford. Let's try. Well, Senator Lakeford, we're going to try to get back to you on one of these other days.

I'm sorry we're having such technical problems here. But one of the things he was able to do, and again, we appreciate the time, but we can't keep going through it. But the bill will, as you brought up, it's pretty remarkable that it specifically has a lot of Democrat support and a lot being, what, five? There are five co-sponsors, including Kirsten Sinema of Arizona is one of the top co-sponsors with Senator Lakeford that introduced this. But then they have Mark Kelly from Arizona, Senator Hassan from New Hampshire and Tester from Montana, Senator Tester.

So they're also from West Virginia. We have Senator Manchin. So it's a broad coalition of Democrats within their party joining with about six Republicans. And so you look at that and you're like, what other bill in the Senate right now could get 11 total senators from both sides of the aisle to come together on something? And I guess we hope that the Biden administration will look at that and see, OK, if the Senate Democrats are saying we need to think about this for a minute before we just scrap this entire protection at the border without a plan, without something going forward, then maybe the Biden administration will hear that and respond in an appropriate way.

And so that's really what we're hoping for here as well. Yeah, a lot of stuff going on in Washington. A lot of people are currently trying to figure out if there are a few bipartisan items that can that can happen. Now, one of those may be that a lot of them don't watch CNN.

That can be one. Even I think the liberals, at least they got their MSNBC. They don't need someone who pretends to not have an agenda. They have their MSNBC. But for CNN, we're going to keep this conversation going about the changing media landscape. One of the things I want to talk about even was going to be the consolidation of streaming services. I think a lot of people saw streaming services as sort of the death nail for the cable big packages.

And what are we seeing right now? We are seeing discovery merge with Time Warner or with Warner Media, which that, by the way, means, you know, essentially you already have two streaming service there that probably will have to combine. And now you've seen a plus, which is their external scene. And guess what's probably going to happen that if I have to guess that ends up moving itself over to this HBO Max provider as well. Likely, that is what's happening as we've seen discovery step in.

Now, what does that mean for you as a consumer? That means that you are going to have to really make those expensive decisions on which streaming service you decide to go with. You have HBO Max, which is producing great content.

Now they're also going to discover. So if you discovery, you're going to have to move over to HBO Max. We also saw CNN Plus was, I believe, originally gifted to every employee, which I believe Disney did this as well.

I think a lot of them do that. Or even like a Comcast subscriber or Xfinity subscriber got Peacock, the NBC Universal streaming service. Even as a Comcast cable subscriber was automatically enrolled as a Peacock subscriber, even though I'd never signed up or anything.

I just used my regular login. For Apple Plus, it was if you had bought a new phone within the last year or two, you were given a free year subscription to Apple Plus, their television. I think that is going to be pretty normal as we see this consolidate, whether that's good or bad for the customer. Obviously, you're getting more content for less money in theory, but we all know right now you probably are paying for. I mean, I can't even want to go through the streaming services I'm paying for, but they're probably enough to equal what would have been your cable provider. But CNN Plus comes in, wants to be. And look, Fox Nation did as well. And I don't know the numbers of Fox Nation, so I can't say that that has been an overwhelmingly huge success either. But what I can say is that there are people going to CNN, going, how is this even content? And we'll have a clip, we'll play it in the next segment, a couple of segments from Howard Stern and from Dan Abrams. For people that are not your traditional conservative broadcasters also, I think that may be getting misconstrued who are saying that this is doomed. You have Axios, you have Howard Stern, and you have Dan Abrams all saying, why did they even think this is where they should go?

How is this the best option? I want to know from you, how are you taking in media right now? Are you watching our show?

Is that it? All you're doing for the day? You're watching your one hour secular broadcast? I'm OK with that.

I approve of that. Or are you subscribed to 20 streaming services? How are you watching news content? Do you think you're going to want to get news content for more money? Or do you have that already with social media plus whatever network you watch, if you even watch cable news at all? I'm curious. I'd like to hear from you. 1-800-684-3110.

That's 1-800-684-3110. Are you listening to other alternative sources for your news? Now, a lot of people do. A lot of people tune into a lot of places. Look, we broadcast everywhere that will allow us. We are on terrestrial radio. We are also on the big tech companies. We're on Facebook. We are on Twitter. We are on Instagram broadcasting live and posting each and every day. But now we've also tacked on Rumble to that where we try to each and every day, which typically has a larger audience because we know that's where our people are going. So find out more about that.

I want you to give me a call. We'll be right back on secular. Only when a society can agree that the most vulnerable and voiceless deserve to be protected.

Is there any hope for that culture to survive? And that's exactly what you are saying when you stand with the American Center for Law and Justice to defend the right to life. We've created a free, powerful publication offering a panoramic view of the ACLJ's battle for the unborn.

It's called Mission Life. It will show you how you are personally impacting the pro-life battle through your support. And the publication includes a look at all major ACLJ pro-life cases, how we're fighting for the rights of pro-life activists, the ramifications of Roe v. Wade 40 years later, Planned Parenthood's role in the abortion industry, and what Obamacare means to the pro-life movement. Discover the many ways your membership with the ACLJ is empowering the right to life. Request your free copy of Mission Life today online at ACLJ.org slash gift. At the American Center for Law and Justice, we're engaged in critical issues at home and abroad. Whether it's defending religious freedom, protecting those who are persecuted for their faith, uncovering corruption in the Washington bureaucracy, and fighting to protect life in the courts and in Congress, the ACLJ would not be able to do any of this without your support.

For that, we are grateful. Now there's an opportunity for you to help in a unique way. For a limited time, you can participate in the ACLJ's Matching Challenge. For every dollar you donate, it will be matched. A $10 gift becomes $20.

A $50 gift becomes $100. This is a critical time for the ACLJ. The work we do simply would not occur without your generous support. Take part in our Matching Challenge today. You can make a difference in the work we do, protecting the constitutional and religious freedoms that are most important to you and your family.

Give a gift today online at ACLJ.org. Welcome back to Secula. We're going to take your calls about the current media landscape as there are reports coming out this morning of CNN Plus' kind of intimate demise as all their projections were off. Everything they told people were off. They thought they'd have millions of subscribers within the first couple of years. They thought they'd have a million subscribers within the first year, two million. They thought they'd be in the 14, 18 million subscribers in the couple of years.

Look, maybe we jump forward in the future, and I'm wrong. But what it looks like is that they really overestimated their viewership. They overestimated how people want to pay for content versus how to get free content.

Look, we broadcast this show each and every day for free, whether that's through a podcast medium, whether you get that on Apple Podcasts or however you get your podcast, whether that is through terrestrial radio, whether that's through Facebook, through Rumble, through YouTube, we try to cast a wide net so you can watch this broadcast. We've seen the numbers shift. We've seen where Facebook was our dominant.

For years, people watched our show on Facebook. Now you see the rise of Rumble. Rumble is coming up, and even there is a battle of free content. So when you tack on money, people have to make transactional actions, even if it's $3 to $5 a month. And we see for the first time ever that came out this morning that Netflix has seen a decrease in subscribers since their kind of peak. The first time in years they have seen a decrease in subscribers. You have probably people at because I think the obvious thing you'd say is, well, they're just going to throw this into HBO Max. Or this will be part of the Discovery Warner catalog.

You'd think that. But I believe what's happened with Netflix is you have seen a lot of competition in this space, and you've seen them put out content that maybe wasn't up to the standards of some of these other streaming services who are providing, truthfully, a better content right now. I mean, I love Netflix. I'm a member. I'm a member of all of these streaming services.

But if I had to pick the ones I'm going to, that's not the first one now, and it used to be. So now you're seeing a crowded field, plus you're talking about CNN, which is already slipping in the ratings. Then you're providing content that's like almost bonus features.

You're not even creating content that seems like stuff people are going to want to see. There's internal reports that people like Chris Wallace, who were – one of the big reasons he was brought in was to kick off this network or this streaming service, who's furious at the way that it's launched. Those are just reports.

It's not – I don't know if it's fact, but those are reports that people talk about. It is demanding that 9 o'clock slot or the Chris Cuomo slot because he sees that, great, you brought me in for X millions of dollars, but no one can see it. None of these guys, and you can say whatever you want, they all have egos. None of them want to make a show that no one can watch, even if they have a bunch of money. Everyone wants their content to be seen. Well, and you brought up the Netflix situation, which we learned yesterday, they lost in the first quarter 200,000 subscribers. That's more than all of CNN Plus by a lot at this point. So that was a big news item, and their stock price suffered because of it. It was on their quarterly earnings call. And right before air, I looked up on CNN, and they had Brian Stelter – you can now get seven days a week over at CNN Plus – talking about the analysis of Netflix losing that many subscribers.

The irony was not lost on me of him talking about a subscription service, underperforming, not hitting the subscriber numbers, losing subscribers at the exact same time that we were about to go on air and talk about what's happening at his network, of which he will have a show on. But you also talked about the bonus content and what people are looking for. CNN, being a news network, is traditionally something you want that's constantly going, being able to bring you updates.

We talked about how they do have the assets when there's a war or a natural disaster. It does great documentary work. But a lot of the content are like the Sanjay Gupta special series that run on Sunday evening.

But now you can get it anytime, which you could also kind of already get if you just logged into their app. So I think the added value for people is an issue here, because when you go to it and you see either the more casual content or the documentaries they could already watch if they just have the app and have regular cable service, there doesn't seem to be a ton of added value to pay that three extra dollars a month. Truthfully, I think there's a large consumer base that watches the news for maybe an hour or less a night, or they take in this show and this is their news for the day when they go home. Yeah, they may pay for HBO Max because they'd love to see that brand new series or they'd love to go back and watch old episodes of their favorite HBO series. They may have that.

But for news content, I think that's a completely different world. And we can get that from some of these callers that are calling right now. Let's go first. Number one, Lana in Alabama, who's calling on line one. You're on the air. Well, hi, my name is Lana and I'm just responding to your question.

Where do I receive my content? And I am strictly radio now, 90.7 FM here in Loxley, Alabama. I got rid of Netflix, got rid of everything.

It's just crap, no content and highly, highly sexualized pornography, especially Netflix. So I'm just doing radio and local news for weather. Yeah, I mean, I think look, I think there's a lot of people. That's not that we have other callers that are saying that there are still people listening to the radio. I think that that is a bit of a in watching regular television, even cable television. You know, there is the move. I think obviously the move is going to be that you're going to get all your content probably right here on your phone, whether that is through a streaming service or another platform. I think that is where the future is headed.

It's not there for a lot of people and a lot of people are getting. They're not getting their entertainment out of the news anymore because the news, as we've known the last couple of years, has been very heavy. We've had two plus years of COVID.

We had obviously the wars that have happened in Afghanistan, the wars now in Ukraine. People have to break off occasionally, take a mental break. So maybe they're finding their news in the middle of the day.

That's not what they're going to sleep to anymore. We are seeing a lot of that shift and change. But we are also seeing a consolidation of streaming services in a time where new ones to kind of pop up. It's going to be tough unless they're providing content like she wants, which is content specifically aimed at an audience that does not want the alternative. Well, and do you think that there's kind of a problem with a news network just trying to think, oh, everyone's doing a streaming service with extra content or whatever.

Let's try that instead of really trying to innovate. Because like we were talking about, the news cycle and the way that a news network, even if they are extremely biased like CNN is, the entire purpose is for it to be delivered in a live fashion as things are happening, as breaking news is happening. And them just trying to say, well, let's have on demand type content, is there almost a mistake in their thinking and not trying to come up with something a lot more innovative than just doing CNN plus? Because everyone does the plus, right? Everyone is it's Disney plus.

It's all of these. They just add the plus and there's nothing creative about it. So is that also part of the problem is that it's stale to a consumer as well because they feel like they're just being given what everyone else is already doing.

I can give them the plus just because plus now has a meaning to it. You know, whether it's Paramount Plus, HBO Max, it's the only one that really does it. That's actually theirs. All of those are content providers in a more traditional sense of entertainment. They're like, do you want a back catalog? The news is trying to mimic that model without doing anything innovative.

Yeah, the only thing back catalog you'd even want from CNN is maybe some of the old documentaries, maybe some of the old series. It's not like you're, oh man, I got to catch up. Don Lemon from four years ago, I really got to hear this, April 30th of 2018.

My wife's birthday, I'm glad you picked that. Yeah, well, I mean, I try. I'm sure she's happy about that. Hey, we'd love to hear from you.

Give us a call as we head into the next half hour. Some of you lose us if you are listening on Trust Radio, but you don't have to because we are broadcasting on all your favorite digital platforms. That is on Facebook. That is on Instagram. Some of your not so favorite ones. Facebook.

They were on Instagram. We are right now on Rumble. That's sort of our big growing one.

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Do that ACLJ.org. It's simple. It's easy. Coming up in the second half hour, we have a former Turner executive, Eric Bischoff, and a friend of mine to really break this all down. We'll be taking your calls at 1-800-684-3110. We'll be right back. We'll be right back.

Keeping you informed and engaged. Now more than ever, this is Sekulow. And now your host, Logan Sekulow.

Welcome back to Sekulow. We are taking your calls and comments right now about what is happening in the world of streaming services and specifically the bust that has been CNN Plus, which launched just a few weeks ago. And we're already seeing some massive changes as Warner Brothers Discovery, which is a brand new merged company, has suspended all external marketing spend for CNN Plus. And they've laid off CNN's longtime chief financial officer as being replaced by someone who is from one of the Discovery executives.

So there's a lot of ways we can break this down to talk about it. It just launched on March 29th with the hope of getting a couple of million subscribers within the first year and with getting up to maybe 18, 20, 15 to 20 million subscribers in the first few years to be able to just to break even. What we saw was 10,000 subscribers or so the first day, and maybe it's up to 100,000. And a lot of those are employees of CNN because they were gifted. They were gifted this subscription.

I'm sure they want it. That's exactly what everyone who works at a place they really would love to go. I remember when Disney did this. Disney offered, do you, people who work at Disney World, do you want the free passes to send your family to Walt Disney World or we'll give you a free subscription to Disney Plus? How many think people at Disney Plus? I think most of them like the perk of sending their families to Disney World.

But that's beyond the point. Look, it's not just conservative media talking about this. Dan Abrams did a great show about it. He broke it down.

We're going to play a clip from him in a little bit. But even the guy who calls himself the king of all media, Howard Stern, had something to say a few months ago when they announced CNN Plus. Let's take a listen to the great one, Howard Stern.

And I got to tell you, I said, who the ****? People don't want CNN. Who the **** is going to pay for CNN Plus? I mean, are they out of their minds? CNN Plus?

Regular CNN isn't enough? And that's from Howard Stern. OK, someone who, look, people have loved him, hated him over the years. Very controversial figure.

Polarizing figure, to say the least. But at least causing how he sees it and just said, essentially, who would want this? And you'd think who would want it? Someone maybe like Howard Stern who would maybe want CNN Plus. Of all people, he actually may be at the top of the list of who would want it.

Right, but no, he even knows that this is a ridiculous concept. And maybe, maybe if you see CNN as part of a global catalog that you would be interested more in joining it. Look, if you turn on HBO Max right now, there's HBO, but then there's also Turner Classic movies. There's the Cartoon Network and Adult Swim. There's other things that they're providing, but they all are within their scope. Now they're going to Discovery, and they pretty much already said Discovery Plus and HBO Max are going to have some sort of merger coming up.

Maybe you throw CNN in there and it doesn't end with so much egg on your face, but right now it's hard not to see that. Well, and the CNN plan was they thought it would be profitable in four years, and they were investing a billion dollars into this. So this isn't even, I mean, that's an astronomical number of investment into this.

It is an astronomical number, but I will tell you as someone who, look, when the streaming services all started popping up, we looked at it here. We looked at, can we provide additional content? Can we come up with something that could compete in that market? Look, I'm not saying we're never going to do it. But the expenses of launching something like this, especially when your network is fledgling, when you have to bring in a whole new group of people because of what's all going on, is not a great idea.

It is incredibly expensive. Not just the physical creating the content, creating brand new content or using your back catalog. It would be different if they had this extensive back catalog. Like you said, who wants to watch news from two months ago?

Nobody. However, when you have this situation at hand where you are shooting for $1.2 billion and to hopefully break even, again, you're not Disney. As much as Disney's come under some fire recently, you're not Disney with 60 or 70 years, maybe more now, close to 100 years of back catalog, of family back catalog content.

It is a different world that we're living in right now. And we're going to take some calls coming up also in the next segment. A friend of the show, a friend of ours, Eric Bischoff, you may know and remember as the President of, I'm wearing it in his honor for today, because this guy knows more maybe on anyone than a Turner merger and what that could mean for a streaming service like this. We're going to talk all about the business side of this.

He was a Turner executive and is a fascinating guy. You're going to like this coming up in the next segment. Eric Bischoff, we are going to take your calls as well at 1-800-684-3110.

1-800-684-3110 to get your voice on the air. Obviously, check out all the brand new content that we produce every day, by the way, for no extra revenue. This is not ACLJ+.

You can find it on ACLJ.org. But we like that plus. It sounds good. We have a channel. You can go to it.

Guess what? It's free. It's part of, we just provide you this great content at no charge, but we really could use your support. That's at ACLJ.org.

We'll be right back with Eric Bischoff. At the American Center for Law and Justice, we're engaged in critical issues at home and abroad. Whether it's defending religious freedom, protecting those who are persecuted for their faith, uncovering corruption in the Washington bureaucracy, and fighting to protect life in the courts and in Congress, the ACLJ would not be able to do any of this without your support.

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Welcome back to Secular. We are joined now by a longtime friend of the family and a longtime friend of this show, Eric Bischoff, joining us live. Eric, I was talking to our producer, Will, here, who's with me this morning, and I said, well, who do we know that has gone through a situation, maybe specifically with Turner, with what is now WarnerMedia and everything that's happening right now with CNN. And CNN Plus, obviously, if you didn't hear earlier, they had their big launch and they were hoping for, what, 2 million in the first year.

They launched with 10,000 subscribers, and now we are seeing kind of panic happen as they have decided this morning to suspend all external marketing spends for CNN Plus, and they laid off their chief financial officer. All this happens at the same time when discovery is kind of merging right now and you had this sort of ancillary. Maybe just give people, Eric, just a couple minutes of your story and what you've been through with this, and obviously we're going to get your thoughts and expertise because you were involved with, and I'm wearing it in your honor, a Turner merger that did really change the landscape, and that was at a time when you were producing shows that millions of people were watching. Well, first of all, it's a privilege to be here.

Thank you very, very much for the invitation. Yeah, you know, it's like Groundhog Day for me in a way, watching everything that's going on with this merger, and I'll just start off by saying I've only been through one major corporate merger in my life, and that, of course, was the AOL Time Warner Turner merger. And going into that period, having never experienced it before, much more experienced people at the executive level than me, all said, don't worry about it.

Things are going to be great. You're really not going to start seeing any structural, you know, major changes for at least a year or 18 months, and that was true. A lot of the changes that occurred in Turner broadcasting as a result of the merger, especially the first one, Time Warner, it was very, very gradual.

Nothing happened too quickly. And what I find interesting about this situation is that David Zaslav came out pre-merger and pretty much made it clear, in fact, he referred to CNN as an advocacy platform as opposed to a news platform and vowed to take CNN in the direction of hard news. And that made sense to me because CNN has been hemorrhaging, hemorrhaging cash and viewers for such a long time.

Let me take that back. I don't know if they're hemorrhaging cash or not, but they have certainly been hemorrhaging viewers. And, you know, if you look at discovery and its success, a lot of that has to do with their fiscal responsibility and managing costs and producing content that you could produce for a budget but still attract a major audience, a successful audience. That's the opposite of CNN. And why in the world anybody would think, hey, I've got this idea. Let's help grow the CNN brand by creating a CNN Plus streaming service while you're hemorrhaging viewers.

And you've become basically a punchline in a discussion about journalism and news is beyond me. So if I was a shareholder in Warner Brothers right now, I'd be grateful for David Zazoff and grateful for this murder. It's going to be painful. It's going to get ugly. And if the rapid pace of major structural changes that we're seeing and hearing of, you know, shortly after a merger or any indication, I think there's going to be a radical change in Warner Brothers as a company over the next 12 or 18 months.

It's going to be ugly. Yeah, I think you're right. And when you look at it sort of in a bigger picture, you have a situation where CNN Plus was sort of created under a previous regime. And maybe, as Will said, they plan to invest a billion plus, a billion plus into CNN Plus, a billion dollars. They were probably too far along because there was also discussion of whether they were just going to pull this and it wasn't going to happen.

But I think they were very far along. They created a lot of content. Like you said, not necessarily the content they're producing. Some of it may be cheap to produce, but when you're talking about some of their top tier talent, I'm sure you're having to pay more when it comes to someone like Jake Tapper, who now you're going to make, you know, once a week do Jake Tapper's book club. Again, something that, I mean, legit, that's the show. If you go to CNN Plus right now, it's Jake Tapper's book club which is like the first thing you see. It's Jake Tapper in like, you know, a leather jacket looking cooler. Or parenting advice from Anderson Cooper. And it's him talking to experts at parenting. That would be interesting.

Who's that for? I mean, that's not even for your core people who at least, maybe there's the couple hundred thousand people that watch CNN at night that would potentially, they'd probably get enough, but potentially would not pay. And you're giving them this weird ancillary content.

You know what's interesting? I mean, if you compare what CNN Plus is trying to do and compare it to what Fox has done with their streaming platform, the quality of the content is really amazing at the Fox streaming platform. And they're taking people that are stars, legitimate stars, who have a strong audience and following and they're extending their stars, so to speak, into very, very interesting content. Whereas, again, going back to my point, you know, with CNN, you've got a bunch of hosts and co-hosts or whatever they are talking heads that nobody really cares about. Nobody's watching them. What would make anybody think that putting somebody that no one cares about and no one is watching into another format is somehow going to, you know, completely reverse your viewership and your fortunes?

It's absurd to me. Well, and you talked about earlier how if you were a shareholder, you know, it's almost a blessing that there's this merger happening for the individuals that own stock into a company, because often you see the two industries that have the worst case of groupthink are members of the mainstream media and also large corporations where there's a bureaucracy in place and it's hard to break through sometimes. Do you think that blessing in disguise maybe for the consumer that this failure on one end but having the merger from someone like Discovery coming in and shaking things up that maybe we could end up getting better content out of the storied brand of CNN with something like this happening?

Quick story. I was first hired by Turner Broadcasting in 1991, and I was so grateful for that opportunity for any number of reasons. It came at a very important time in my life.

I had two young kids and was struggling financially and all that. And just to have the opportunity, you know, to work for Turner Broadcasting was really, really amazing to me. But I'll never forget the most amazing moment was the first time I walked into the CNN Center, and there was CNN.

You know, right there, the headquarters, the studios were right there. And I was never more proud of anything at that point than to be CNN was such an amazing thing, you know, in our culture. It was 24-hour cable news worldwide.

We could get news from parts of the world where you were otherwise, unless you had a shortwave radio or you're a ham operator, you wouldn't get any local news or regional news from parts of the world like that. And I was so proud. It was such an amazing thing.

I'll never forget that. And to see where CNN is now, like I said, it's basically a punchline in the discussion of journalism. It's a joke.

It's sad. And, you know, I have so much respect for Ted Turner. And let's face it, Ted is, you know, very much a liberal individual. You know, he supports a lot of liberal causes.

He's still, to this day, heavily invested in environmental issues. But to see Ted's legacy just go down the sewer, the way CNN has gone down the sewer over the last several years, it's really disappointing to me. So when I heard about this merger and heard some of Zaslav's comments early on about the direction he sees CNN going and becoming a real hard news network as opposed to an advocacy platform, as a consumer and as someone who indirectly, you know, associated with Ted Turner and Turner Broadcasting, I am so happy. And I think, yeah, the shareholders are going to benefit eventually. I think consumers are going to benefit eventually. But I think this country is going to benefit eventually. And we're seeing, look at Netflix. Last I read it, I think 12 hours ago or so, 18 hours ago, Netflix was down 27%. Right. Hundreds of thousands of people gone. Because they've become such a woke platform. And I think what we're seeing, what I hope we're seeing, what I pray we're going to see is the pendulum swinging God to at least some level of sanity.

We only have about a minute and a half here, Eric. I did want to just bring up, because a lot of people are talking about whether this just means, do you think they're just going to loop CNN Plus into what is now going to be HBO Max and Discovery's platform? Do you see, I know it's just outsider's perspective, but you brought up a good analogy on one of your other podcasts, Erica does great podcasts about business and everything, about how you don't necessarily want, especially right now with CNN, to have HBO Max, which let's say, I think you said, it's a great Italian restaurant, you still don't want to put, even if it's the best Chinese food, you don't want that on your menu. Do you think they have to do that to rebuild CNN before they can bring it in?

Absolutely. I would be shocked if they don't just pull the plug on CNN Plus. It was an ill-conceived idea. It was poorly executed. It was overfunded. How do you fix something that was so inherently broken from the get-go?

I don't think you do. I just think you put it out of its misery and start from scratch, because, yeah, I mean, look, any platform is going to be branded. TBS at one point was the comedy network. TNT was the drama network.

HBO Plus is going to have to stand for something, and I don't see how CNN Plus fits into it. Eric, thank you so much for joining us. We'll make sure to tag Eric on all our social media.

He's on his other platforms. He's always spreading great content. So thank you, Eric. We'll hopefully have you on soon to talk more about this.

We'll be right back with more on Sekulow. We'll show you how you are personally impacting the pro-life battle through your support. And the publication includes a look at all major ACLJ pro-life cases, how we're fighting for the rights of pro-life activists, the ramifications of Roe v. Wade 40 years later, Planned Parenthood's role in the abortion industry, and what Obamacare means to the pro-life movement. Discover the many ways your membership with the ACLJ is empowering the right to life. Request your free copy of Mission Life today online at ACLJ.org slash gift. At the American Center for Law and Justice, we're engaged in critical issues at home and abroad, whether it's defending religious freedom, protecting those who are persecuted for their faith. I'm covering corruption in the Washington bureaucracy and fighting to protect life in the courts and in Congress. The ACLJ would not be able to do any of this without your support.

For that, we are grateful. Now there's an opportunity for you to help in a unique way. For a limited time, you can participate in the ACLJ's Matching Challenge. For every dollar you donate, it will be matched. A $10 gift becomes $20.

A $50 gift becomes $100. This is a critical time for the ACLJ. The work we do simply would not occur without your generous support. Take part in our Matching Challenge today. We make a difference in the work we do, protecting the constitutional and religious freedoms that are most important to you and your family. Give a gift today online at ACLJ.org.

Welcome back to Secular. We're going to take this segment and take as many calls as we can. I know a lot of you have been waiting for a long time, and we appreciate you. We had obviously our guests on, thanks to Eric Bischoff and Senator Lankford, though it didn't go great technically.

I'm glad he was able to carve out some time to talk to us about his new act. But let's move on. Let's take some phone calls.

Let's just go in order. Let's go to Jeffrey, who's calling in Florida on Line 3. You're on the air. Hey, thanks for taking my call.

First-time caller. Great. Thank you.

I'll see you. The one place I get my news would be One American News. They have an app on the Apple TV, and that's where I get my news. Trump Jr. has an app on iPhone News, XMX, and I like to watch Tucker on Fox Nation. But that's pretty much where I get all my news.

So it's interesting. You are one of the people who is subscribing to one of these platforms, or a couple now, because I assume One American News, because we know that they were no longer on a lot of the contracts. So you're paying for that subscription for One American News?

Yes. So I'm just, out of curiosity, just interested in what made you decide that Fox Nation, One American News, was how you were going to get your content when there is so much free available. Is it they were just creating the content you wanted?

Like you said, you watch maybe the extra hour of Tucker that he does, his more casual show. What was it that drew you in to do that? Because I think a lot of people are probably struggling to pay the price point of bringing on just another subscriber. Well, I really don't need others to decide for me what is newsworthy. So I do those because they think like I do. We have a shared, I guess, worldview. And it allows me to just kind of pick and choose what I think is newsworthy. I don't need somebody to tell me, hey, this is newsworthy.

I'm like, really? That's a good point, Jeffrey. We appreciate you calling in, and that's interesting to me.

It's interesting to hear what kind of streaming platforms are happening and where you could see the future hold, because there are people who want to pay and will pay to get the content they want. Who will not pay? The CNN viewer. Let's move on to the next caller. Let's go to Arthur in California.

He's calling on Line 5. I'm 80 years old and I have never been on CNN. I never had cable, never had any of that stuff. I just get with my radio on FM radio, and that's about all I listen to. I won't even listen to antenna TV with the mainstream media, because there is nothing but a continuation of fake news and all that kind of stuff.

Arthur, I'm curious. You say 80 years old and you're still listening to terrestrial radio. Look, we thank you.

A lot of people do. Millions of people listen to our show on terrestrial radio. We thank all of them. I know we talk a lot about digital. Look, we do have a beautiful set.

If you ever did get to watch us, I think you'd like our show visually. But there are a lot of people like you who still do get their media from either over-the-ear radio, terrestrial radio, or get it from local news. We're not inundated. Do you listen to a lot of news programming, or do you say, hey, I only want to listen to that hour a day and then I don't need my head filled with it? No, I listen to other ones, but as far as I'm concerned, so much of the other, I don't even use the internet. I never, when they first came out with the internet, I heard them say garbage in, garbage out, and I'll tell you what, it's about all filled with garbage. Look, we're 30 years into the internet roughly of having it probably most of our lives, and you can't really argue with a lot of that. That's kind of true. It's not necessarily been the best thing for the world.

It's been the best thing to get information across the world, but you can say it's done a lot of damage as well. Let's move on. Let's go to Linda who's calling. I'm sorry, Linda in Kentucky. We'll take Linda in Kentucky. Hello, this is Linda in northern Kentucky, and I just wanted to know, I appreciate the ACLJ and Logan is a great program today.

I really like Jay and Jordan and the whole team. It's really fantastic, and I've listened to it quite a bit on my computer, and I really like it, and I really appreciate everything you're doing there. Also, we used to watch, personally we used to watch the mainstream media every single night, and then President Trump kept saying, well, this is fake news. And so we started thinking about it and looking and said, hey, this is propaganda. This is mostly just mainly propaganda because they don't tell all of the news, and especially listening to ACLJ, we can hear the real news at the same time. So we have never paid for news. We don't have any cable. We don't watch Fox unless we're at a motel or something. But we did start watching Newsmax, and then I got a couple of apps on my phone. Ben is Michael Lynch. He's really good. He gives the news, and it's free.

And I listen to Dan Bongino sometimes on Locals and Rumble. Also, instead of Netflix, we would not get that because we don't like the movies. They are just too risque, and so we get Pureflix. Well, and Linda, you brought up the- Which is owned, just to let you know, Pureflix, interesting enough, I'm just letting this out there, is owned by Sony, a major corporation. They weren't. They were purchased last year by Sony, and Sony, I have to give them a little bit of respect in this, they're investing a lot of time and a lot of money into really interesting content. Pureflix from a couple of years ago was not the same.

Like, you think God's not dead? People think of those movies? Sure, they make those movies. But they are putting in some real heavy hitters into Pureflix.

I'm interested to see where they go and how they get kind of reshaped as well. They're kind of having what CNN had, where now they're going to, you know, now they have a new ownership, a new group, and we're seeing some shakeups there. Well, and it kind of goes to what Jeffrey was saying, is that he doesn't need to be told what's newsworthy, he wants to go see what interests him. When you compare that with Linda's call, saying that, you know, we want to go, we don't want Netflix because we don't want that content, or we don't want this news network because we don't want that content, we want what we want. And to Sony's credit, they're seeing that there is a market for people not just being told, here's what you need to watch, here's what's going to be big, here's what's popular, here's our algorithm has put together the perfect 95% match for this particular web series or whatever. Instead, you can go, and Sony recognizes this, we need to put out content because there are people out here that want that content.

So instead of being silenced and just taking whatever is given to us, whether it be this is newsworthy, this is a news story, this is fake news, if you are loud and say this is what we want and this is what we don't want, the corporations will listen because at some point they do want to make money and if there is a market to make money that's not being served, they will meet you there at some point. All right, we've got two calls. I don't know if we can get them in two minutes. We're going to try. We're going to Steve in Tennessee first, and if we don't get to you, Scott, I really apologize.

Steve, you're out of the air. Hey, just a quick point. One, love what you guys do. Two, the only streaming service I subscribe to is Warrior Poet Society Network.

Shout out to all my War Poets. And the third point is I think CNN, along with many other cable networks, have been in a downward spiral for a while and cable has placed themselves out of the dealership. I think you're right, Steve, and I saw we had some connection problems there, so we have to drop you, but I really think you're right and I think you're headed towards an interesting time in media. Scott, I know you're on hold for half an hour, but I'm going to give you like 30 seconds.

Just grab your comment real quick on Line 1. Thanks for taking my call. Love your show.

Scott Barton from Winston-Salem. I'm kind of an anomaly or an outlier. I don't watch any TV and haven't for years. I get all my content through the radio or the phone, occasionally listen to Buck and Travis on the way to work, plug up to Epic Times and the Bible, and that's where I get my information. Love your show.

Thank you so much, Steve. And look, I think that's true for a lot of people. Pick and choose a few things you want. So maybe that's where CNN Plus also missed the mark, is people want to pick and choose.

They don't need endless amounts of options. You want to curate. You want to make sure you have great content across your platform. I want to thank everyone who listened today. Everyone who called in, our special guests, Eric Bischoff and Senator Lankford. Thank you for listening to today's show.

Dad and Jordan will be back tomorrow. And if you want to stay in touch with the ACLJ and support the work of the ACLJ during our matching challenge, you can do that right now at ACLJ.org. That's ACLJ.org. See the great content that gets posted there. It's not just a portal for you to help and support and keep this show going. They keep our organization going. You can see incredible free content on ACLJ.org.

We'll talk to you tomorrow. At the American Center for Law and Justice, we're engaged in critical issues at home and abroad. For a limited time, you can participate in the ACLJ's matching challenge. For every dollar you donate, it will be matched. A $10 gift becomes $20. A $50 gift becomes $100. You can make a difference in the work we do, protecting the constitutional and religious freedoms that are most important to you and your family. Give a gift today online at ACLJ.org.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-29 11:02:15 / 2023-04-29 11:27:47 / 26

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