CNN.com Sets Free-Video Push

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A total of 10 years after it became an Internet-content pioneer, Cable News Network’s CNN.com (www.cnn.com) is announcing plans for a new broadband service that will include free video content, as well as premium features.

Starting June 20, CNN.com will make free video available to the 35 million-plus broadband subscribers in the United States, with premium products scheduled for rollout this fall.

Until March 2002, CNN.com offered free video, but increasing bandwidth costs drove the company to create a subscription package. That package became available as a standalone service through CNN.com and through RealNetworks Inc.’s “RealPass” service, which serves several-hundred-thousand subscribers.

With Monday’s announcement, much of that RealPass content, plus other video, will be available free-of-charge, with the premium products being developed for the fall likely to head RNI’s way.

“We’re changing our model and changing the way we distribute video,” said Susan Grant, executive vice president of CNN News Services.

The new CNN.com home page will prominently feature video, as well as section fronts, story pages and special-report areas.

Video will appear across all topic areas -- politics, world news, business, sports, entertainment and science and technology. The site will include a specially designed video player, using Microsoft Corp.’s “Windows Media 9,” which will enable users to search and organize videos based on their tastes.

The CNN.com staff will also produce a two-minute “Now in the News” newscast each hour.

The premium product coming this fall will include multiple live streams, access to CNN’s video archives and user-customized options.

Advertising also will be sold before and after the video segments, Grant said. CNN.com ad executives participated with their linear-network brethren during this spring’s upfront ad sales season.

“This is a new opportunity for advertisers to get a mass reach consumer product,” she added, as the site averages 23 million unique visitors each month.

For more on CNN.com’s video revamp, please see Matt Stump’s story on page three of Monday’s issue of Multichannel News.

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