CNN’s Great Big Story is getting a great big gift. CNN announced this week that they were investing $40 million in the platform over the next two years, with a goal of building it into a 24 hour streaming network.
If you’re not familiar with Great Big Story, it was created in 2015 to attract younger viewers, showcasing a mix of short form human interest stories from around the globe. The stories weren’t necessarily tied to a current news event, and were often offbeat, like one about a mountain climber with no arms and no legs, or one about the invention of the fictional language from HBO’s “Game of Thrones.”
The end goal for CNN was to attract millennials on social media who weren’t going to be watching CNN’s standard programming.
The features actually became somewhat popular, attracting an average audience of 3o to 60 million people with an average age of 27 (about half the age of the average CNN viewer). The company plans to expand on that success by making it a standalone product with around the clock broadcasting of live programming, short films and stories, and feature-length films. The content will be distributed on web TV services like Sling TV and DIRECTV NOW.
Andrew Morse, CNN’s general manager of digital operations said they were building “something entirely new,” and would likely have frequent live experiences, like broadcasting from a wildlife migration in Africa or from the bottom of a coal mine in South America.
It’s clear that CNN’s goal here is to grab a piece of an online video landscape that’s already pretty fractured. But with people leaving cable in droves, there are certainly eyeballs up for grabs. YouTube
To celebrate the launch of the GBS streaming network, CNN plans a “Great Big Weekend,” a weekend festival celebrating film, music, food, and exploration.