CNN May Launch Its Own Digital News Platform to Compete With Apple, Facebook Offerings

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CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker

The platform, which would most likely not carry the network's branding, is being developed by an internal group called NewsCo.

The details are still murky, but CNN has recently created a new internal group called NewsCo that is developing a suite of digital products, a company spokesperson confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter on Wednesday.

Among other products, the group of about a dozen people is working on a news platform that would endeavor to provide a better user experience while also generating more revenue for outside publishers than they've traditionally received from third-party platforms.

The platform is not close to being ready to launch, the company said, and will most likely not carry CNN's branding.

The company will soon initiate conversations with outside publishers about participating in the platform, which would likely incorporate affiliate content, video feeds, audio content, video content and archived material.

"Facebook is building a news tab and Snapchat says they want to do the same," CNN Digital general manager Andrew Morse said. "But, those organizations do a lot of different things. And, I don’t think their primary focus is on delivering the best news experience to their customers. That’s not to say that we want to replicate what they are doing — but it does beg the question: Can we create something better?"

Morse also cited Spotify as an inspiration for CNN's efforts. "They set out to solve a problem for recording artists and to build a powerful platform for customers. They built a great product to serve those problems," he said. "That doesn’t mean our goal is to create the Spotify of News, but they built a product that solved some real problems.” (The company has hired a former Spotify engineer for the project.)

The group, which is akin to an internal research-and-design laboratory, has received a substantial amount of funding and is hiring backend and technology specialists.

The new platform was first reported by The Information.

The platform could compete in a crowded market that includes a soon-to-be-launched News tab from Facebook, as well as Apple News and an upcoming new product from News Corp. that will live at Knewz.com.