CNN’s Mark Thompson Tells Advertisers Plans For New “Branded Verticals,” Magic Wall App Feature

CNN’s Mark Thompson told advertisers additional details about the network’s strategy, with plans to expand franchises to digital platforms and to build new branded verticals around topics beyond politics.

“We don’t believe news is just politics,” Thompson said at the Warner Bros. Discovery upfront. “Business and tech are news. Climate and weather are news. Health, wellness and living longer are news. So expect to see us build new branded verticals in all these areas on TV, on our apps and across our other platforms.”

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Thompson has previously made the case that viewers are interested in a wider scope of coverage areas, while he has outlined plans to integrate linear TV and digital news units, and to boost CNN’s presence and innovation on smart phones and other mobile devices.

He pointed to the CNN franchise Five Things as the type of project that crosses platforms, with a newsletter, podcasts and a Max streaming show. He said that the CNN Magic Wall, used by John King to analyze results on election night, will be the source of a new app based feature to explore results of local, state and national results.

Thompson also said that CNN would invest more in audio, noting the popularity of podcasts hosted by Anderson Cooper and Audie Cornish.

CNN’s weekend strategy has relied in shows like a replay of HBO’s Real Time with Maher, with an American version of the British series Have I Got News For You joining the mix this fall. CNN also has returned to ordering more original series and films from outside suppliers, with announcements of Eva Longoria: Searching for Spain and another season of United States of Scandal with Jake Tapper. Along with OWN, the network’s CNN Films unit also has picked up Luther: Never Too Much, about Luther Vandross. The announcements mark a reversal from 2022, when CNN announced that it would cut back on original series and films amid cost cutting across Warner Bros. Discovery.

Other projects planned include Breaking Bird: The Rise and Fall of Twitter, a working title, from Candle Media and Bitachon365. The four-part series will chronicle the rise and tall of the social media company. The series is a co-production with the BBC. Another project is Lockerbie, a look at the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. It is produced by Mindhouse in association with Sky Studios and CNN Original Series.

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