When you think of CNBC, naturally you think of gossipy puppets and bacon tacos, right?
OK, maybe not. But that’s where the power suit crowd-serving cable network wants to take viewers, as it looks to seriously dial up its Web video output.
This week marks the debut of the CNBC Digital Workshop, an in-house production studio designed to crank out Web originals for CNBC.com and partners like Yahoo. Among the projects in development are Chew & Brew, a weekly cooking show hosted by CNBC reporter Jane Wells that’s focused on guy-skewing concoctions like bacon tacos and beer milkshakes, and The Puppets Can Hear You, featuring puppets reciting tweets from the popular Wall Street Twitter feed @GSElevator, which mocks the sometimes out-of-touch traders at Goldman Sachs.
CNBC is clearly going lighter and broader with some of its digital fare, as it attempts to move past simply repurposed TV clips. Meanwhile, it is also ramping up a daily postmarket round-up show, 3 to Watch, hosted by CNBC reporter Josh Lipton, and this Friday marks the debut of Hacking America, an investigative series examining weighty topics like the fight against global cyberterrorism.
“We’re building on the success we already have,” said Kevin Krim, svp, gm of CNBC Digital. “We have a fantastic TV brand and a very strong digital team, which has been doing a better and better job of fundamental blocking and tackling. But now we’re interested in going after a broader base, offering viewers a holistic view of their lives, not just [what they’re doing during] trading hours. And we’re also addressing advertiser demand.”
Though the workshop is being formally announced this week, CNBC already has started churning out Web-only franchises. Among them, Off the Cuff, a collaboration with Yahoo, features interviews with executives outside their business milieu, as well as celebs and sports stars like the New York Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony; and the recently launched, twice-daily series Big Data Download. Off the Cuff has already drawn sponsors like Land Rover and CDW Corp.
“While the Digital Workshop is still very new, we’ve been very happy with the borrowed equity we’ve built with Off the Cuff,” said Danielle Koffer, managing director, Mindshare. “There’s lots of competition, but this sort of original video opens up opportunities for brands like Land Rover who share a common audience to create more customized integrations and storytelling across platforms.”
CNBC’s commitment to appointment programming on the Web appears to be paying off in terms of audience, even as rivals like Bloomberg make a similar push. CNBC.com pulled in 7.6 million unique users in March, up 35 percent versus last year. In the same month, average daily video views grew 317 percent to 137,000 users, and total video views rose 194 percent to 9.3 million.
There’s more to come. In June, CNBC will roll out NetNet TV, a debate-oriented show spun off from a popular blog penned by CNBC reporters John Carney and Jeff Cox. Meanwhile, if Puppets is a hit, we might see more programming of the sort, said Krim, “maybe even Overheard in the Hamptons This Summer.”