Discovery Communications CEO David Jaslav had long been friends with retired CNN chief executive Jeff Zucker, who announced his abrupt resignation on Wednesday after failing to disclose his service relationship.
But firing him could actually help Zaslav better align CNN with his broader streaming strategy, according to those familiar with his thinking.
Zucker’s unexpected departure will likely slow the evolution of CNN+, a standalone subscription streaming service created by Zucker when WarnerMedia was still part of AT&T. Discovery plans to merge with WarnerMedia in the second quarter of this year.
Key Discovery executives believe CNN’s value lies in supporting its larger flagship products, including content and sports streaming from HBO Max and Discovery+. private. They think CNN+ is less valuable as a paid subscription service, say those familiar with the idea. A
Discovery spokesperson declined to comment. Owned by
WarnerMedia and Discovery, the complete product with the best content competes with Netflix and Disney packages on Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ as the leading streaming service for families looking to replace traditional pay TV.
Discovery announced on Thursday that it was discussing adding more European sports to Discovery+ through a new joint venture with BT Sport.
Zucker has hired people over the past few months for exclusive CNN+ programming, including former Fox News reporter and host Chris Wallace, NYU Stern School of Business professor Scott Galloway, chef Alison Roman and actress Eva Longoria
. WarnerMedia has not publicly announced a release date or price for CNN+. Bloomberg News reports that CNN plans to launch its streaming service in March for $5.99 per month.
These shows are Warner Bros. You can add value to your integrated streaming service. discovery. But Zucker’s resignation will allow Zaslaw to make more decisions about how to go live on CNN and CNN+ without running into friends, two people versed in executive thinking said.
Discovery isn`t allowed to formalize decisions on future leadership for the combined company until the merger closes. It`s unclear what Zucker`s role would have been under Zaslav, though Zucker extended his tenure at WarnerMedia last year until at least the merger`s close to keep his options open.
Zaslav learned of Zucker`s resignation just hours before Zucker informed CNN`s staff that he was stepping down, sources familiar with executive thinking said. It`s unlikely Zucker will return to run CNN after the merger, one of the sources said.
WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar announced Wednesday three current CNN executives — Michael Bass, Amy Entelis, and Ken Jautz — will run the network until the merger closes.