After sputtering for five years, AOL Time Warner's CNN/SI (for Sports Illustrated) will shutter by the fall, making room for a new sports channel jointly owned by the media giant and the National Basketball Association.
Last week, about 190 CNN/SI staffers, the bulk of the Atlanta-based operation, were told they'll lose their jobs when the new channel launches. That date's not known yet.
"We hit distribution hurdles we didn't anticipate," said CNN/SI Executive Vice President and General Manager Steve Robinson. "We pushed and pushed, but it was decided a different strategy was needed to acquire the distribution."
CNN/SI currently counts about 20 million analog and digital subscribers.
The new net, tentatively named AOL Sports and to be based in New York or Atlanta, is a cornerstone of a six-year TV deal the two sides are still hammering out.
Some CNN/SI employees will be reassigned to other CNN units; others will have to re-interview for positions with the new net. They'll receive severance pay if they stay on until the relaunch.