DirecTV Cautions Warner Bros. Discovery Over CNN Max; WBD Says Streamer’s Goal Is To “Reach New Audiences”

In another latest salvo amid tensions between video providers and programmers, DirecTV sent a letter to Warner Bros. Discovery warning that offering CNN as part of its streaming package risks violating the contract between the two companies.

CNN’s new CNN Max launched last week on WBD’s Max streaming platform. Unlike its previous (and quickly shuttered) iteration CNN+, CNN Max mirrors much of the schedule of CNN’s traditional cable channel, along with some original programming and the CNN Originals library.

It’s not surprising that cable and satellite providers, who pay hefty fees to content programmers, have balked at news networks offering a streaming simulcast beyond existing linear customers.

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CNN Max has said it relies on the CNN International feed, which has different, and presumably less restrictive, agreement than traditional CNN. WBD also insists the streaming audience skews much younger than linear. The media giant had no specific comment on the DirecTV letter but said it “maintains strong and meaningful relationships with our affiliate partners. Our partners are aware of and understand our rationale with Max, which is to reach new audiences.”

Disney, after a contentious carriage battle with cable operator Charter recently, agreed to make Disney+ and ESPN+ available to cable customers at no extra cost. Charter subscribers will also get the planned standalone streaming version of ESPN when it rolls out. (The current ESPN+ service is not a simulcast of the network.)

DirecTV reps weren’t immediately available to for comment. It’s not clear if the company plans to escalate the matter.

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