To capture youth viewers who are turning away from TV toward digital platforms, media companies are finding that they have to invent new online divisions. CNN's big bet is "Great Big Story," a digital-first outlet focused on short, timeless documentary-style features rather than hard news.
"Great Big Story is unlocking new and incredibly desirable audiences for CNN, new sponsorship opportunities and new content opportunities, such as our production partnership with The Weather Channel," said CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker. "It has global appeal and isn't bound by headlines or news of the day. It's a perfect complement to our legacy business, which is also thriving. What's not to love?"
In its first six months, Great Big Story amassed almost 40 million monthly views across platforms, averaging 730,000 views per video and 22,000 shares. The average age of its 6.2 million fans is 27 years old, a hard-to-reach millennial demographic. Eighty percent of its views are mobile. At its Digital Content NewFront presentation in early May, Zucker said that "We are telling amazing and impactful stories, and I think you agree we are succeeding."
Now, it needs the ad dollars to follow.