From the Influencers

CNN Acquires Beme to Attract Millennial Viewers

December 02, 2016

It’s no secret that millennials get most of their news online. This isn’t surprising, given that the generation seems to have a mobile device on them at all times. I can personally attest to this. As a millennial, I get a lot of my news online by using my smartphone. I’ve learned about the attacks in Paris, Boston marathon bombing, and countless other world events from platforms like Twitter—and was the one to relay the news to my parents, who hadn’t seen the news on TV yet. That’s one benefit of smartphones: they can be used to stay connected to worldwide happenings, no matter where you are or what you’re doing.

I’m not alone in this connectivity. According to a Pew Research survey, millennials are twice as likely to “often get news” from the Internet as from TV. Half of those surveyed cited the Internet (including social media) as their preferred source, while 27 percent said they rely on TV. Predictably, older generations preferred getting news from TV. Data from comScore Media Metrix reinforces this idea, but takes it a step further by pointing out that millennials mostly get their news on mobile devices.

All of this points to the fact that millennials are interested in the news and world events, they just access it in different ways. So, if a media company wants to reach this group, it needs to adapt to new ways of putting out information. That’s exactly what CNN is doing by acquiring mobile video app Beme, which was co-founded by Casey Neistat.

Neistat is a well-known influencer among millennials; his YouTube channel has close to six million subscribers, most of which belong to younger generations. While there is a lot of original content on his channel, there is also some sponsored content mixed in. The immense number of followers Neistat has shows how savvy he is when it comes to being an effective influencer. People trust him—his opinions, views, etc. Being trustworthy is a staple characteristic of a good influencer, and Neistat’s success in this area is why CNN has become interested in his app.

CNN’s acquirement of Beme shows its hope of tapping into Neistat’s influencer appeal among millennials. The move brings a popular influencer to CNN’s side and also shows millennials that the outlet cares about reaching them with its news by going mobile.

Beme works by allowing users to record the world around them in brief video clips and then share them.  CNN plans to dismantle Beme, and recreate it completely as a new media brand. Whatever CNN decides to do with the new brand, it’s obvious that the focus will be on digital in an attempt to reach younger people. With Neitat and a new digital approach on its side, CNN may become a favored news source for millennials.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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