Skip to main content

The ace up the CNN+ sleeve is you

When CNN+ launches this week, on March 29 — it’s actually soft-launched early in web browsers — it’ll do so with a slew of shows and a phalanx of faces you recognize. Not just the usual suspects, like Anderson Cooper, Jake Tapper, Brian Steelier, and Sanjay Gupta, but new imports, like former Fox News journalist Chris Wallace.

And one more fresh face it hopes to see on the platform — yours.

Screenshot of CNN Plus on an iPad.
CNN+

Interview Club is a section of CNN+ that allows subscribers to ask questions, and the on-camera talent to give answers. Digital Trends got a brief demo of CNN+ and Interview Club ahead of the launch. CNN+ itself is exactly what you’d expect — video from one of the premier news sources the U.S. has to offer. The mix of live and linear news is long overdue, and the roster of new shows should be compelling. We’ve yet to actually see any of them, though — and not all of the new fare will be available immediately at launch. So we’ll have to withhold judement on that front.

Interview Club, on the other hand, probably is the more intriguing ingredient. It’s one part Reddit AMA, another part Instagram Stories questions, albeit in a longer, more structured format. It’ll initially work via a web browser or in the mobile app.

“Interview Club fundamentally transforms what it means to become part of the story,” Courtney Coupe, senior vice president of content strategy and operations for CNN+, said in a February press release announcing the initial content slate. “It’s such a unique value proposition within the platform, because it gives our audience the opportunity to directly influence the conversation in real time. This kind of access to newsmakers is unprecedented, and weaving this crucial element of interactivity into the core of CNN+ sets it profoundly apart from anything else that exists in the streaming marketplace.”

That’s almost certainly a little bit of overselling. But Interview Club definitely is the sort of thing that keeps CNN+ from just being a news-centric streaming service.

Series of screenshots of CNN Plus on an iPhone.
CNN+ / Digital Trends

It’s also the sort of thing you worry could go completely off the rails, given that we’re talking news shows and viewer interaction. But one thing CNN+ is not looking to have is a sort of Facebook-style Wild West. There will be several layers of guardrails in place.

First is that to ask a question of a host, you’ll have to be a subscriber to the $6-a-month (or $60-a-year) streaming service, which will live within the existing CNN apps across the various platforms, much like how ESPN+ is a part of the ESPN apps. You don’t pay? You don’t get to play. Second is that questions will be moderated. You’re not guaranteed an answer, and paying the $6 (or $3, if you take advantage of the 50% off deal in the first month) shouldn’t serve as a troll tax, allowing anyone to ask anything in bad faith. If it’s a nonsense question, theoretically it will be squelched.

It’s also worth noting that Interview Club also says that your question actually could be edited a tad before it’s presented, and that’s noted when you submit your question. That, in and of itself, isn’t a bad thing. Your question could be refined or tightened or simply made better. On the other hand, editing leads to unwanted changes sometimes.

But the folks at CNN+ seem to be prepared for the eventual hiccups that come with submitted content. In our short conversation, which really fell more on the demonstration and technical side of things, they stressed the initial human moderation, and the need to walk before you run. The team moderating the questions is a full-time team internal to CNN+.

What remains to be seen is just how engaging Interview Club — or the CNN+ shows that bookend it — will be. It’s hard enough to get anyone to sit down for an hour and watch anything anymore. Getting them to engage outside of that time likely is even more difficult, though you have to imagine news junkies to be more inclined to weigh in.

Available in all the usual places at launch

CNN+ will be available on the usual app stores on launch day. Specifically, that means the Apple App Store, Google Play for Android devices, and on Amazon Fire TV. Smartphones and tablets are supported, as are Apple TV and, presumably, Android-based TV platforms like Android TV and Google TV.

“We are thrilled to be able to offer CNN+ to customers on each of these platforms on launch day,” Andrew Morse, CNN EVP, Chief Digital Officer and Head of CNN+, said in a press release. “Getting this product into the hands of our customers is an important milestone for CNN, and our partners will be critical to the future success of this product.”

One obvious omission from that list, however, is Roku — the biggest streaming platform in the United States.

Editors' Recommendations

Phil Nickinson
Phil spent the 2000s making newspapers with the Pensacola (Fla.) News Journal, the 2010s with Android Central and then the…
YouTube TV rolls out multiview: watch up to 4 NCAA games at once
An example of YouTube TV's multiview feature.

If you love college basketball and can process more than one game at a time, you're going to go bananas for YouTube TV's new multiview feature, which will be rolling out on a limited, early access basis starting March 14.  With multiview, you'll be able to pick up to four channels and see them all simultaneously, with the ability to easily flip the active audio from one to another. The new feature is compatible with any TV-based YouTube TV installations (streaming media players, smart TVs, and game consoles), but it doesn't yet work on mobile devices or computers.

Initially, multiview will only be available to select YouTube TV users, who will be chosen at random. But Google says the goal is to include every subscriber by the time NFL football season starts in the fall. Another limitation, at least for now, is that YouTube TV will preselect the multiview channels you can choose. At launch, only channels that carry NCAA tournament games will be included in that preselected list.
How to use YouTube TV multiview
If you're one of the lucky, randomly chosen users, you'll see an option to watch up to four preselected, different streams at once in your “Top Picks for You” section. After selecting multiview, you can switch audio and captions between streams, and jump in and out of a full-screen view of a game.
It's all about sports
At the moment, YouTube TV sees multiview as an enhancement of the sports viewing experience, so only sports content will be eligible. YouTube TV has had some big sports wins in 2022, including 4K coverage of the Soccer World Cup, and that trend will continue in 2023 thanks to its acquisition of the NFL Sunday Ticket games. However, YouTube TV recently lost access to MLB Network and the MLB.tv add-on, which reduces the amount of sports content available for multiview in 2023.

Read more
Plex now lets you skip the credits on movies and TV shows
A mid-credits scene from Ferris Bueller's Day Off showing Plex's Skip Credits option.

In a move that is sure to enrage the thousands of people whose names appear at the end of our favorite movies and TV shows, Plex has introduced a new feature that lets you skip the end credits on the content in your personal library.

The feature works similarly to its Skip Intro option -- a far less controversial feature given that most subscription streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video already let you do this. With Skip Credits, the Plex Media Server uses an algorithm to detect the difference between a screen full of rolling text and a screen that has a full image of, well, not text.

Read more
Best headphone deals: AirPods, Sony, Sennheiser and more
Beats Studio Pro sitting on travel case.

There are a lot of headphone deals going on, and among them are some impressive Beats headphone deals, AirPods deals, Bose headphone deals, and Sony headphone deals. This is great news if you’d like some audio privacy throughout the day or if you’d like to experience your home theater in a more immersive way. With so many headphone deals to choose from right now, we thought we’d track down all of the best headphone deals for your shopping convenience. Reading onward you’ll find some serious discounts on popular headphone models, and if you’re looking for some cool devices to pair them with you can also shop TV deals, gaming console deals, phone deals, and tablet deals.
Apple AirPods 2 -- $80, was $129

Apple has long been known for making premium tech products that please the eye aesthetically and produce a simple yet impactful user experience. This is true of the Apple AirPods 2, which, despite being a few years removed from their original release, still hold up as a great set of wireless earbuds. Just like their newer iteration, the Apple AirPods 3, the AirPods 2 produce high quality audio that pack a punch whether you’re playing games, listening to music, watching movies, or relaxing with a podcast. It has an H1 chip that delivers a stable wireless connection, and manages to produce high-quality sound far better than many other wireless headphones. Battery life is about as good as it gets, with the AirPods 2 offering up to five hours of listening time on one charge, and more than 24 hours with the included charging case.

Read more