CNN leverages live streaming to drive mobile app engagement

Dive Brief:

  • CNN is offering 10 minutes of free live streaming on its mobile app before asking viewers to authenticate as TV subscribers in an effort to boost is live stream viewership, according to Digiday.
  • The promotion has seen a 29% conversion rate of people signing in with their TV subscription authentication after the free streams ended, according to the cable news network. The best results occurred after strong lead-in content like breaking news, political debates and election night coverage.
  • "It's about removing as many obstacles as possible that exist between us and our users,"  Alex Wellen, chief product officer at CNN, told Digiday. "That will ultimately showcase the value proposition of being able to watch live TV across multiple devices."

Dive Insight:

CNN is taking a proactive approach to finding a digital audience as well as promoting its content through its own app rather than a different digital provider. CNN bridging different channels through live video shows how the format might serve as a connective tissue between mobile-first efforts and offerings on TV.

CNN's growing app strategy also comes as audiences and advertising dollars move away from traditional TV, including paid cable and satellite, to options like over-the-top services and consoles and even social media platforms.

Live streaming video, while popular with users, has proven costly for publishers in the past, leading some to scale back their efforts after an early bullish period. Facebook, for example, did not renew several year-long contracts for Live video with premium media partners, though it has continued to search out ways to better monetize the format, introducing ads and other tools for brands. 

Publishers have also cited breaking news as an area where live video succeeds, and it's one that happens to be CNN's forte, so the engagement success here makes sense. 

Broadcasters like CNN would still be wise to take steps that offer at least some measure of control over this shift in live content viewership. If nothing else, CNN will gain some insight into what portion of its audience is adopting watching its content via digital live streaming rather than on TV.

Along those lines, Wellen said CNN is trying to "future-proof the organization," per Digiday. It has beefed up its mobile capabilities including the ability to send up to 56 million alerts in less than two minutes, a 30% increase in speed over just three weeks ago and now gets 6 to 10 million hours of monthly viewing on its apps.

Filed Under: Trends Video Mobile
Top image credit: CNN