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CNN Max streaming service debuts Sept. 27

Courtesy CNN

Wolf Blitzer, Anderson Cooper, Jake Tapper and Christiane Amanpour shows from CNN will be available on Warner Bros. Discovery, along with new programming and the CNN Originals archives.

One more time: CNN will relaunch a 24-hour streaming channel Wednesday, Sept. 27, on Max, less than 18 months after the CNN+ streamer was shut down after just one month last year.

CNN Max will debut as a work in progress on Warner Bros. Discovery's Max streaming service. Max formerly was known as HBO Max before the Discovery-Warner Bros. merger in April 2022, a week after the short-lived CNN+ premiered.

JB Perrette, CEO and president of Global Streaming and Games at Warmer Bros. Discovery, said CNN Max will at first be a "beta stage to help us learn and develop what appeals most to our customers in this new genre." Part of the learning curve will be determining how much content can be procured and/or delayed from CNN's 24/7 cable channel without upsetting cable operators.

CNN Max will carry The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, The Lead with Jake Tapper, Anderson Cooper 360 and Amanpour, but not The Source with Kaitlin Collins or Out Front with Erin Burnett. It will offer "new programming built specifically for the Max streaming audience" such as CNN Newsroom with Jim Acosta, Fredricka Whitfield, Jim Sciutto, Rahel Solomon or Amara Walker, CNN announced.

Scuitto will anchor any breaking news. CNN Max also will livestream some shows from CNN International.

"This new 24/7 streaming service will bring the immediacy and value of global breaking news with top analysis, context, and reporting across all the biggest stories in the world to the Max streaming audience and enhance the product with the convenience of viewing news at anytime, anywhere, and on any screen," CNN announced.

Variety's Brian Steinberg called the new service "CNN Headline News — for the streaming era."

After the quick hook for CNN+ last year, competitors MSNBC, Fox News Channel, ABC News and CBS News "have all had opportunities to establish new programming for the broadband set, and to experiment while refining their brands in the space," Steinberg wrote. "CNN is in some ways starting to run after its competitors have done a few laps on the track."

NBC News also has expanded a live-streamed ad-supported service called NBC News Now, which also is used to fill the daytime schedules of some of the company's affiliates. The company has also developed streaming products for Today and Dateline, streams its morning cable-news programs Morning Joe and Squawk Box live, and operates a separate streaming venue for MSNBC, Steinberg noted.

"It seems like a lot of fanfare for something NBCUniversal has been doing for months with MSNBC, CNBC and NBC News over at its streaming service Peacock," said Annie Aguiar, audience engagement producer for the Poynter Institute, the Florida-based journalism think tank.

CNN Max will be offered with the family of Warner Bros. Discovery programming on Max ranging from Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and Chopped to HBO Succession, The Last Of Us and Game of Thrones; HGTV's Property Brothers and Love It or List It; Discovery's Naked And Afraid; TLC's 90 Day Fiancé; and Turner Classic Movies.

CNN Originals documentaries and series will be rebranded as CNN Max. The streamer will offer over 900 episodes of current and archived programming, including Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown (seasons 1-12), Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy (seasons 1-2) and the CNN Films' and Max Original NAVALNY, which won an Academy Award for Documentary Feature Film earlier this year.

David Folkenflik, NPR media correspondent, noted that CNN+ was developed by former CNN leader Jeff Zucker, who left the company before it was swallowed by Discovery in April 2022. The new owners quickly pulled the plug on CNN+ in a cost-cutting move. Zucker's plan was to replicate CNN, and eventually move the programming and audience from cable TV to streaming. The future for CNN Max is not clear,Folkenflik says.

"They're calling it a beta edition. That is the very first effort," Folkenflik says. "I think it's going to be an opportunity for them to show that there is a landing place for CNN. The guys who did CNN+ wanted to shove real CNN there within a year or two. These guys are, I think, trying to evolve more slowly."

John Kiesewetter, who has covered television and media for more than 35 years, has been working for Cincinnati Public Radio and WVXU-FM since 2015.