CNN’s Great Big Story Well Ahead of Where It Expected To Be

By Tim Baysinger 

GBSTitleCNN’s Great Big Story, the BuzzFeed-esque attempt to grab millennial viewers, is already well ahead of where it expected to be just five months after launch.

During a keynote this morning at Social Media Week in New York, Chris Berend, vp for Video Development, CNN and co-founder of GBS, said the viewership numbers are at the levels they expected to be a year out. “This isn’t the case of them trying something to see if it works,” said Berend of CNN’s investment. “It’s an investment in the long term.”

Berend said that GBS reaches 25 million people each week, with an average age of 25 years old, much younger than the average age of a CNN viewer: 61. And even more impressive is how long those viewers watch: roughly 10 minutes each week watching videos that are between 1-3 minutes long. “They’re gobbling up two or three videos at a time,” Berend said. Some videos get up to an 80 percent completion rate (how many people actually watch a video all the way through?), far above the industry standard of 50 to 60 percent.


Though GBS has its own dedicated homepage, the videos are primarily distributed on social channels; all the more impressive that people are sitting down on Facebook or Twitter to watch videos that are a few minutes long. “Video doesn’t have to be 30 seconds or less to work on social,” said Berend.

“Too many legacy media companies assume that because they made it and they put it on their homepage that it’s going to reach the people that actually need to see it,” he said. “That truth is beginning to break down very fast.”