YouTube star Casey Neistat is heading to CNN to help the news network establish a new media brand directed toward capturing the attention of younger viewers.
The broadcaster announced on Monday that Neistat will join its as-yet-untitled new venture as executive producer. CNN is also acquiring Neistat’s Beme mobile app (an interactive video service that allowed users to share short, self-destructing clips) in a deal valued at $25 million, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Neistat will reportedly have full creative control over the new brand, which sounds like it will be built upon Beme’s existing format — allowing viewers to share topical videos regarding current events.
In a blog post, the app’s co-founder Matt Hackett revealed Beme is shutting down on 31 January 2017. Existing users will be able to download their archive of creations (including videos and reactions) over the next two months. Alongside Beme, Neistat also released an app called Exit Poll earlier this month. In a bid to capitalize on election fever, the app allowed you to declare who you were voting for and then elaborate on your decision in a short video. Exit Poll then curated the clips into a Facebook Live stream shared via its Page on the social network.
Despite the fact that the media’s reliance on polling data took a hit during the recent election, access to real-time videos from voters is an appealing prospect for a major broadcaster such as CNN. Meanwhile, Beme has built up a niche user-base of 1.2 million members.
“By joining forces with CNN, we’re able to give our mission more than just one, startup-budgeted shot. We are going to hunker down and create something new,” said Hackett in his post. “To do that with the full focus it deserves, we have to say goodbye to Beme.”
Neistat quit his day job producing YouTube vlogs and short-form videos just over a week ago, leaving behind a devoted following of 5.8 million subscribers. Now we know why he chose to take such a bold step. Neistat’s daily videos — which often garnered millions of views — were comprised of clips of his time on the road, his family life, random musings, and tech reviews.
“Casey has tapped into nearly six million really powerful viewers, most of which do not tune in to CNN,” Andrew Morse, global head of CNN Digital, told The New York Times. “To build this audience authentically, we believe we need to build something new.”
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