He admitted the decision was ‘incredibly difficult’ but claimed it was ‘the right one for the long term success’ of the company.
CNN+ chief Andrew Morse will leave the firm but it was not clear what will happen to famous hosts such as Chris Wallace and Eva Longoria.
Licht said workers ‘will get opportunities to apply for jobs elsewhere inside Warner Bros Discovery’ but admitted it was a ‘uniquely sh**y situation’.
The streaming service was panned today as ‘one of the biggest flops in US broadcasting history’.
The $300million startup was unveiled to huge fanfare – and a glitzy New York City launch party – but drew in a pathetic 150,000 subscribers.
It was previously reported executives thought its growth rate could have competed with the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post at up to 2.9million.
Critics mocked CNN for shutting down the streaming service so quickly, with one asking: ‘Wait… there was a CNN+?’
Donald Trump released a statement ‘congratulating’ it for ‘their decision to immediately FOLD for a lack of ratings, or viewers in any way, shape, or form’.
Meanwhile an industry insider told DailyMail.com Wallace has ‘total egg on his face’ for ‘fronting the biggest media failure of the century’.
But some workers spoke out this afternoon, saying they were ‘extremely proud’ of the work they had achieved over the course of three weeks.
In his memo, Mr Licht said consumers wanted ‘simplicity and an all-in service’ rather than ‘standalone offerings’ rather than what CNN+ offered.
He said some content will wind up on other company networks, and workers will get opportunities to apply for jobs elsewhere inside Warner Bros Discovery.
But he said that the head of CNN+ – Andrew Morse – would be leaving the company.
Mr Licht wrote: ‘While today’s decision is incredibly difficult, it is the right one for the long-term success of CNN.
‘It allows us to refocus resources on the core products that drive our singular focus: further enhancing CNN’s journalism and its reputation as a global news leader.’
Key members of staff were reportedly only told about the news hours before a town hall meeting with the CEO at lunchtime.
Meanwhile most of the lower-level workers were left in the dark and only heard about it through the press and social media.
Those who cannot get another job at the company will reportedly be given at least six months’ severance package while those looking inside the firm will be given 90 days of additional pay.
CNN news reported on CNN+ being shut down this afternoon, claiming it was ‘hyped as one of the most signifiant developments in the history of CNN’.
The Twitter post appeared to have misspelled significant, with the full post saying: ‘CNN+, the streaming service that was hyped as one of the most signifiant developments in the history of CNN, will shut down on April 30, just one month after it launched.’
Critics mock CNN+ for flopping in just three weeks
Critics, including former President Trump, mocked the website for the quick demise of CNN+ while others questioned management for pushing through with the service.
He said: ‘Congratulations to CNN+ on their decision to immediately FOLD for a lack of ratings, or viewers in any way, shape, or form.
‘It was like an empty desert out there despite spending hundreds of millions of dollars and the hiring of low-rated Chris Wallace, a man who tried so hard to be his father, Mike, but lacked the talent and whatever else is necessary to be a star.
‘In any event, it’s just one more piece of CNN and Fake News that we don’t have to bother with anymore!’
An industry insider told DailyMail.com: ‘Chris Wallace has total egg on his face – leaving his plum gig at FOX News to front the biggest media failure of the century.
‘At least Quibi lasted eight months – CNN+ couldn’t even make it 30 days. If I worked at CNN I’d be p***ed – $300 million to launch a streaming service that can’t even make it a month.
‘Chris Wallace interviewing Judy Collins should have been the first signal this was doomed – who was going to watch that? What a waste of $8m, CNN should have left him at FOX.
‘CNN had three years to plan this out – and they couldn’t even last 30 days, what an embarrassment.’
Patrick Moorhead wrote: ‘Anyone surprised? @CNN has fallen over the past 5 years and is having a hard time getting up.’
Joe Pags said: ‘CNN+ is going away. Did you know it existed?’ CNBC’s Alex Sherman said: ‘CNN+ offered a ‘lifetime’ deal where you only had to pay $2.99 a month and you were a subscriber for life.’
He added: ‘Hard not to chuckle at that concept today, even if Gallows humor (my favorite).’
Nicholas Fondacaro posted: ‘CNN+ wasn’t worth 1 penny. So they should get all their money back.’
Another man added on Twitter: ‘CNN+ is now the biggest flop in the history of broadcasting.’
But others, including some of those who worked for the firm, leaped to defend it this afternoon.
Producer Erika Ryan said: ‘Let me just say I’m very proud of the work I’ve done at CNN+.
‘I work with world class journalists and we have poured our heart and soul into creating content that we’re extremely proud of.
‘Well if anyone needs a producer with print, digital, live tv writing, control room and now ~streaming~ experience, I’m available for hire!’
Another, Ellie Smith, posted: ‘PSA if you’re going to tweet something snarky about CNN+, hundreds of journalists and technicians who did nothing but work their tails off just had the rug pulled out from under them. So be kind.’
Chief National Affairs Analyst Kasie Hunt said: ‘(Some of you are asking about me. I am proud to be on team CNN. I will be fine. It’s not about me right now.)
‘The journalists I have been privileged to work with on CNN Plus are world class I am so incredibly proud to be able to call them colleagues If your organization would like a chance to benefit from their talents, my DMs are open This is *my* job for the foreseeable future.’
NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly put: ‘Sending strong thoughts to the journalists & friends who poured their talents & energy into creating something brave and new at CNN+.’
A source told Mediaite: ‘I feel so badly for them. [It] had tons of potential but there were certainly some questionable programming decisions.
‘A lot of young talented people gave up good jobs to go there. That’s the really sad part.’
Under AT&T, there were $100 million in development costs and some 500 employees assigned to building out CNN+.
The service had attracted big names for its lineup, from ex-Fox anchor Wallace to Roman, as part of the company’s effort to appeal to younger people.
There had been skepticism a paid news streaming service would attract interest from consumers, who already have available a slew of online TV.
While Fox has a paid streaming service, Fox Nation, other major TV news organizations make their apps available free.
Warner Bros Discovery CEO David Zaslav was reportedly against the streaming service from the start.
Executives are said to be under pressure to fill a huge hole in company finances as it battles to shake off a reported $55billion debt.
It comes after reports said bosses slashed its marketing budget and consider rolling the service into HBO Max.
CNN parent company Warner Bros. Discovery, which formed through a merger earlier this month, was said to have cut all external marketing spending.
It is the latest turmoil at the company, after WBD said it would move to cut $3billion in costs and chief financial officer Brad Ferrer was ousted.
Destined to fail? Subscriber numbers ‘peaked at just 150,000’ despite hopes for 2million in first year
CNN+ launched on March 29, weeks before the April 8 closing of the $43billion merger between Discovery and CNN parent company WarnerMedia.
The hasty launch was seen by some observers as a move to preserve turf and budgets for the streaming service.
CNN had originally planned to turn it profitable within four years by investing $1billion into its growth.
But the early subscriber numbers were woeful, with just 150,000 paying customers, according to Axios.