New York -- CNN is preparing a major overhaul of its digital properties including a completely redesigned web site that will be compatible across desktop, tablet, and mobile platforms and the addition of a live online feed of its TV network.
"The future of CNN is as much about digital as it is about television, if not more," said CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker in a presentation to reporters at the network's New York headquarters on Wednesday. "We are really not going to care in the long run where people are getting their news and information from as long as they're getting it from CNN, and it's not necessarily going to be from a television screen."
On Wednesday, CNN.com launched a box on its homepage that streams live programming from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET. The online TV feed, the first for a network, will air without audio or an ad load unless a user clicks on the feed and authenticates through their cable provider. CNN's TV Everywhere agreements with its distributors limit the feed to that time window, except in limited instances.
"We have breaking news carve-outs in our cable and satellite deals with affiliates. Jeff has the ability to call that up if we need to," said KC Estenson, senior VP and general manger of CNN.com. "We need to do it sparingly because those contracts are pretty clear about what is defined as breaking news."
The live programming is one feature of a completely redesigned CNN site that will launch in public beta on Sept. 30 and rollout globally in November in the first major overhaul of the network's digital properties in more than a decade. CNN has poured $15 million into revamping its digital infrastructure this year with a responsive design that will work across every device. Where story selection, placement and headlines now vary from desktop to mobile, the new site will automatically push identical content on every platform.
The new design will also include a new color palette that will automatically change with the seriousness of the site's lead story -- for more subdued news, it will be blue, moving to shades of red (CNN's brand color) for urgent, breaking stories. News will also be designed to be more shareable. Currently, 70% of CNN's traffic comes from its homepage, with 30% of its stories driving 90% of traffic. The network sees an opportunity to improve referrals from social media sites and better highlight the other 70% of stories with an improved navigation bar that allows users to follow specific topics.
"Over time we can start to personalize the information that's getting to you. The grand vision here is that at some point we can dynamically publish the site for the individual," said Estenson, pointing to CNN's acquisition of the personalized news app Zite back in 2011. "This is the very early innings of us heading down that path."