CNN-Turner Launch Great Big Story

CNN and parent Turner have launched a new socially delivered video network Great Big Story featuring short-form videos that can be delivered to inboxes and mobile devices.

The site got a multi-year investment from CNN.

Among the first such stories were ones on Rain Dove, who works the runway modeling as both a man and woman, and a story about flying through a hurricane. The production techniques are clearly meant to appeal to a Millennial audience.

The hurricane video, for example, featured a pilot talking about how it felt to fly into the eye of the hurricane "on purpose," accompanied by video of cotton clouds and a model airplane, a rain stick being turned upside down for rain, and a piece of sheet metal hammered with marimba sticks for thunder, while a very young-sounding narrator narrates.

"What if there were more to your social feed than empty click bait and cat videos," asks a video on the site introducing the feed. "What if there were real stories?"

Chris Berend, cofounder of Great Big Story and VP of video for CNN, said the plan is to post 3-5 videos per day in various formats, totally about an hour of content a week. The length will depend on the story and who it is targeting, he says. The initial videos vary from a minute to over three, but in the coming weeks there will be an 18-minute short film, which he says is probably about the top end for lengths.

Andrew Morse of CNN is the other cofounder.

The videos are available on their website and there are apps for both Android and iOS, in Facebook feeds, on YouTube, Apple News, Snapchat and more places starting November.

The videos on the site default to mute per Facebook's player, which is optimized for mobile aps. The idea is that mobile video is discovering you, says Berend, as opposed to you seeking it out. "It's a softer, more audience friendly experience," he says.

Executive producer is Courtney Coupe (ABC, Bloomberg). Creative director is Ben Whitla (Yahoo!). Matthew Drake (Time, NowThis) will head up audience and content development. Rob Sands (Amazon) is lining up partnerships. David Spiegel (BuzzFeed) is head of sales.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.