Andrew Morse, EVP/general manager of CNN Digital Worldwide, discussed this subject during a session at SXSW 2019 in Austin, Texas.
“CNN isn’t a TV company anymore,” he said. (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: How CNN is moving beyond the TV screen.)
Television, he explained, still occupies a central role for CNN. But its mission as a “21st-century media organization” is much broader in scope, and involves making its stories available on a wider range of channels than ever before.
“The challenge of today regardless of the format – whether it’s our core product on TV or digital; whether it’s newsletters; whether it’s podcasts – is how do you then deliver experiences to take your content and get it to people wherever they want it, however they want it, and how do you personalize it?” asked Morse.
Definitions of television, he further reported, are changing – and could reasonably include content enjoyed on streaming services, cellphones and “on a big screen that happens to be attached to the wall in my living room.”
Coupled with this, fragmentation is good news for CNN. “People are consuming a lot of video, and, in particular, TV," said Morse. "This is the heyday of live news; there has never been a greater time for live news."
Email bulletins offer an indicator of how CNN is extending its reach – and turning its TV shows into multi-platform brands in their own right.
“They’re great news vehicles. But, more than anything else, they’re an incredible way for us to connect with specific audiences. And to build a relationship with them,” Morse said.
Social media has traditionally been a more complex proposition, as these platforms have often proved hesitant to remunerate news providers in ways that media companies perceive as fair.
Last year, however, Facebook announced it would fund shows made by several news brands to air on its Facebook Watch video platform – a list including CNN's “Anderson Cooper Full Circle”.
“If the economics are such now, for their own survival and ours, that we can partner … or do some deals … we’d love to do it. But we have business models to protect, we have audiences to serve, and we want to work with friends,” Morse said.
Sourced from WARC