CNN Is Joining the NewFronts as It Pushes Further Into Digital Video

Activision Blizzard also looks to tout eSports to buyers

The two newest participants in the Digital Content NewFronts are among the oldest companies taking part in the two-week advertising bazaar.

CNN, founded in 1980, and Activision Blizzard, which has roots that date back to 1979, have just been announced as presenters.

CNN will take Federated Media's spot on May 5, while Activision Blizzard is taking the place vacated by TheStreet on May 12.

Best known for its TV network, CNN has been beefing up its digital short-form content.

"We have a lot of investment going into our CNN digital properties," said Katrina Cukaj, evp of portfolio sales and client partnerships with Turner Ad Sales. "We have done a lot in the last couple years, but more so in the last year."

In fact, CNN is pumping about $20 million into digital production. Its biggest bet is on Great Big Story. Launched in October, it's the company's BuzzFeed-esque grab for millennial viewers. In February, Chris Berend, vp for video development, said the project was well ahead of where it was expected to be five months in. Great Big Story reaches 25 million people each week.

Cukaj said CNN's NewFronts presentation will focus primarily on the future of the nascent service.

CNN, with its voluminous 2016 campaign coverage on TV and online, will also be a part of Turner's upfront presentation two weeks later. But, Cukaj added, "The NewFront gives us an opportunity to talk more specifically and give more time to GBS [Great Big Story] and CNN digital."

Activision Blizzard began as two distinct developers: Activision in 1979 and Blizzard Entertainment in 1991. Now, the game-maker is looking to bring the burgeoning eSports ecosystem to buyers. The company launched a media networks division last fall helmed by former NFL Network chief Steve Bornstein and Major League Gaming co-founder Mike Sepso.

"We realized there was still a tremendous opportunity to build a traditional media business around an emerging and fast-growing new sport," Sepso told Adweek. "We don't think advertisers and buyers know just how large, engaged and passionate this audience is."