CNN Launches Vice-Style Web Video Series ‘Great Big Story’

CNN is launching its new digital media brand, Great Big Story, which will focus on positive, newsy video stories, with an initial push on Facebook. In addition to streaming content to its website and apps for iOS and Android devices, Great Big Story will also feed to YouTube, Apple News, Snapchat, and connect to users through smart TVs, specifically on Apple TV, Roku, Amazon and Chromecast. Facebook has become a popular site for several video publishers, among them BuzzFeed and Business Insider.

Variety notes that the startup, “which is not formally part of CNN,” is funded by a multi-year investment from CNN and plans to make revenue from “branded content” videos. Great Big Story plans to distribute three to five videos “of varying length” a day and, in November, a short film.

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The startup has an alliance with Creative Artists Agency and more than 30 employees who have worked for Vox, Vice, MTV, ABC, NowThis, Amazon and Yahoo. First sponsors are snack-manufacturer Kind and Hewlett-Packard.

The Wall Street Journal quotes co-founder Chris Berend, who is also CNN’s vice president of video development, that Great Big Story will focus on four subject areas likely to attract Facebook audiences and create sharing: innovation, food, the environment and “the human condition.”

“We wanted to create our brand on Facebook first, as we think we have the most potential right away to connect the deepest on Facebook,” he said. “Facebook is obviously becoming this really, really powerful force in video.”

He’s referring to companies such as BuzzFeed and Business Insider whose video pages have thrived on Facebook. WSJ quotes analytic firm Tubular co-founder Allison Stern that BuzzFeed’s Facebook video channels have “collectively generated over 2 billion views.” In addition to other top video publishers, including the Tastemade food-focused brand, and NowThis news brand, Tech Insider, a consumer tech-facing sibling of Business Insider, was ranked 9th on Tubular’s Facebook creator rankings last month.