CNN Digital eyes changes — while rivals make gains

By MixDex Article may include affiliate links

The Wall Street Journal reports that new owner AT&T is looking to revamp CNN’s digital arm — after the division missed revenue targets and shuttered or scaled back other projects — but also omits growth made by rivals.

  • AT&T, which acquired CNN through its purchase of Time Warner, renamed the division, which is comprised of three major divisions: Turner Broadcasting (which, in turn, is the parent of CNN), HBO and Warner Bros., WarnerMedia in June 2018.
  • According to the WSJ report, John Stankey, the head of WarnerMedia wants to see growth in the CNN Digital portion of the network.
  • CNN Digital missed its revenue targets for 2017, according WSJ sources — and laid off staff in February 2018.
  • The network also shut down Beme, a video sharing app it acquired for $25 million.
  • It also has reduced its investment in CNN MoneyStream and has delayed plans for paywalls for its digital politics and business verticals.
  • Meanwhile, execs are looking to data science and personalization, reports the WSJ, as a possible area of growth for CNN Digital.
  • The network hired Robyn Peterson as its chief technology officer, who brings experience in content personalization.
  • According to the WSJ report, Stankey sees a data science and personalization driven approach to CNN Digital as a key way to sell more targeted advertising than its traditional cable channel can achieve.

CNN Digital’s revenue troubles aren’t its only worries — with its cable news rivals making key moves into its dominance in the digital space.

  • According to comScore multiplatform data, for example, NBC surpassed CNN in unique visitors in quarter four of 2018.
  • CNN registered 137 million unique visitors, while NBC News’ digital network came in at 140 million.
  • NBC also grew its unique visitors by 20 percent from 2017 to 2018 — while CNN’s shrank by 3 percent.
  • NBC’s efforts on new platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram have also surpassed CNN’s efforts.
  • NBC’s “Stay Tuned” outlasted CNN’s short lived “The Update” on Snapchat and is now the top viewed news program on the platform — and since expanded to Instagram.
  • NBC is also set to launch NBC News Signal, an ad supported news streaming service, later this year.
  • In addition, Fox’s digital network also grew its unique visitors and page views year over year for January — up 16 and 4 percent, respectively — while CNN saw only 1 and 2 percent growth.
  • Fox launched Fox Nation, a premium streaming service, in 2018.