CNN transforms the social video startup into a 24-hour streaming channel

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Great Big Story launched by CNN in 2015 to compete against the likes of Buzzfeed and Vice just got a jump start of a $40 million investment to be released over the next two years.
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GBS is an independent LLC fully funded by CNN. Its raison d’être is to produce that is appealing to millennials, easily digestible and shareable on social networks, and appropriate for native advertising—all objectives that have eluded CNN in the past, with its strict news format. The acquisition of GBS by CNN didn’t quite deliver the expected results. Therefore starting summer 2018, Great Big Story will change direction and, using the investment and will expand into a full-day of programming with a diversified with a wide range of content, including live programming and feature-length films.

The streaming channel will be distributed on the growing number of web-TV services like Dish Network Corp.’s Sling TV or AT& T Inc.’s DirecTV Now, said Andrew Morse, general manager of CNN’s digital operations. “This investment is to build something entirely new. We consider it a brand that plays well across all sorts of platforms,” he said.

Great Big Story has raised $70 million to date and is valued at $200 million to $250 million. It employs 40 employees. It expects to break even at the end of this year, not including its latest investment, Morse said.

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But it doesn’t end there, as part of the new funding larger vision, Morse said “Great Big Story also plans to start a series of festivals next fall to celebrate “remarkable feats of storytelling.” It will highlight all forms of entertainment and art including poetry, video filmmaking, and music video. CNN hasn’t settled on the Festival host towns. The Festivals will be filmed and live streamed and may become regular programming on the new channel. This new direction will be a big jump for GBS since presently most of its videos are less than three minutes long. With an audience of 30 million to 60 million viewers a week watching on internet-connected TVs, on average, 38 minutes a session, and with an average age of 27, a much coveted demographic by advertisers could be a gold mine for CNN whose TV’s audience average age is 58.

But it doesn’t end with local festivals and feature films, GBG, with the $40 million round, it stated in a company press release that it “plans to expand globally, enabling it to supercharge the network with live programming experiences from around the world. In addition to lifestreaming, the company will program its 24/7 stream with a combination of long form, non-scripted, and acquired programming.”

Congratulations to Big Great Story entire team for its ongoing success! And great move from CNN!

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Photo credit Great Big Story.