NEW YORK: CNN, the news channel, currently makes an estimated $370m from its digital operations, but it has developed a five-year plan to triple its digital revenues to $1bn by 2022.

Under the leadership of Jeff Zucker, the veteran president of the company, CNN intends to launch a tiered subscription service for its digital news business.

According to the Wall Street Journal, this could happen as early as the second quarter of 2018 and there are two subscription models under active consideration.

One option is a premium offering, enabling subscribers to access special content on topic-specific verticals, such as CNN Politics or CNN Money – respectively the first and sixth most popular sites in terms of unique visitors in the US, according to measurement firm comScore.

The second option would involve less specialised content, but still offer subscribers access to additional content across all of CNN’s sites.

“We have to find more subscription products,” Jeff Zucker told the Journal. “We have to experiment with e-commerce. And I think we have to find ways to monetise mobile traffic.”

Looking into the detail, Andrew Morse, EVP of CNN US and General Manager of CNN Digital Worldwide, explained that the ultimate aim is for digital revenues to be evenly split between advertising and direct-to-consumer products.

However, he acknowledged that dealing with the challenge posed by the duopoly of Google and Facebook, as well as persuading consumers to pay for news, will not be straightforward.

“We’re conscious of these trends. And we know that we will need to address them and overcome them if we’re going to be successful,” he said.

“For the most part, the story of legacy media transitioning into the digital space has been to take digital as an afterthought,” he added. “What we realised a long time ago is that doesn’t work for digital audiences.”

Sourced from Wall Street Journal; additional content by WARC staff