Casey Neistat to Begin Producing Video Content for CNN as they Acquire 'Beme' App

Casey Neistat to Begin Producing Video Content for CNN as they Acquire 'Beme' App

Just eight days ago we posted an article about the end of Casey Neistat's daily vlog run, where he had amassed billions of views and a huge audience of followers. Now today, news is spreading about his next project: to create a new media brand that creates digital content for millenial audiences for CNN.

CNN acquired Beme today, but the terms of the deal haven't been disclosed as of the writing of this article. What has been shared is that CNN plans to create a new company as a part of the agreement, to "build technology to enable the new company and also develop mobile video capabilities for CNN’s portfolio of digital properties," according to CNN in this Variety article.

A launch date of summer 2017 is expected for this new unnamed project, but the Beme team will be at the helm, and while it will be under the larger umbrella of CNN, it sounds like they will have editorial control over the content they produce. Neistat is plugged into audiences that major news networks want to be, so by recruiting him and his team, it's clear that they are making an attempt to drive a younger demographic to their programming.

This isn't the first time a major news network has invested in smaller media start-ups. It's happened several times before and there seems to be a trend where larger corporations are buying out creators and influencers to get at a particular audience. As this NYT article pointed out,

NBCUniversal recently invested $200 million in BuzzFeed, the new media start-up, and also put $200 million into Vox Media, a competing company that is home to technology, sports and political news sites. AMC, the network known for the hit series “The Walking Dead,” announced this month that it had taken a minority stake in Funny or Die, the digital comedy site founded by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay.

What remains to be seen is whether or not the content produced is watered down, or still interesting/relevant enough for the previous audience to continue to tune in. Only time will tell, but regardless it's cool to know that Neistat will once again be publishing content for media hungry viewers on the Internets.

[via The Verge]

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21 Comments

Mike Schrengohst's picture

Heh - a fake guy for fake news -perfect!

I assumed Beme was totally dead so I'm very curious to see how much it was purchased for. Was it a loss or did they actually make any profit? I'm also very interested in seeing what CNN turns it into. A social media app that is geared toward news and is user generated actually seems like a decent concept.

ALEXANDER TARDIF's picture

$25 mil according to WSJ notes (not verified). CNN must think Neistat's audience is worth it.

It must be his reach / audience / personal value. There is way on earth the app alone is worth close to that.

David Justice's picture

Gary Vaynerchuk always talks about how he invests in a person and not a property. This could be more about Casey then it is about the app.

Robert Callahan's picture

I've read that it's more of an "acquhire" rather than them purchasing the app. CNN is more interested in appealing to millennials by using Casey...not a re-branded Beme app.

Tasso Karpouzis's picture

Good for Casey. Unfortunately most media outlets, CNN is no exception, are just corporate machines pushing propaganda and peddling ad space. Mike Schrengohst said it best. A fake guy for fake news.

Patrick Hall's picture

I wouldn't necessarily say Casey is fake but we are witnessing a huge media/news revolution after the shit show that was this last election. While it is easy to blame CNN/MSN/FOX for peddling their own corporate agenda, there is a bigger problem concerning "news" in general.

Real news journalism is pretty much dead with all journalists being replaced by news anchors and news personalities. It's also so easy now for legit "fake news" to be spread via social media that I could see something like BEME becoming a cesspool much like /politics and /the_donald have become on Reddit.

To highlight my point even more, even when the news isn't partisan, you sometimes wind up with the horrible witch hunt disasters we saw on Reddit with the Boston Bombers' identities. Unfortunately news needs to be vetted, sometimes withheld, and run its course before being reported on to guarantee accurate reporting. As news sites merge with sites like Buzzfeed (which has already happened), you are going to get more and more clickbait and falsely polarized articles just to appease the shareholders. In that sense, Donald Trump winning the election is the absolute best thing for CNN and if they really want their income to continue to compete with 2016's coverage they actually might need more Donald coverage for 4 years.

How do you see this bigger problem of "news" in general effecting photojournalism? While I am not on the photojournalism is dying bandwagon. It is in a state of flux. Apps like Beme are not going to do any favors and just further water down the market. Why should news outlets pay any photographers when there are so many people willing to use apps for free?

Anonymous's picture

I'd never heard of Beme before reading this article (I'd never heard of Casey Neistat until I read articles he wasn't producing anymore videos), but looking at the app it was clear to me that this will be another venue for CNN to get free content. And this is a trend that will not be going away.

The future of making a living as a photojournalist is diminishing. Every year I am making less money and am reconsidering the direction I'm going. The photographers who will get hired are the ones who can get access to situations/people and have a unique product they can promote (example - Mark Peterson's campaign photos from this past election).

Patrick Hall's picture

I think you guys are misreading my statement. I was talking about journalists who actually go out and investigate the facts vs tv personalities who simply read the teleprompters and give their opinions. I'm not talking about photo journalists. Those jobs are def long gone

Those days aren't long gone. They are just changing. The days of chasing fire trucks and spot news photojournalism are a thing of the past. Today there is very much still a need for quality photojournalism. There will be more of a need in the future. Sure, there is an avalanche of shit posted everyday, but it's exactly that shit. There are still major outlets that value good photography. Sooner or later someone will realize that quality photos sell papers or drive traffic. Why hasn't there been a Life magazine for the web? Shit the whole reason I ever picked up a camera was that and National Geographic.

You guys of all people have to know that. You're articles are mostly on point and you provide entertaining and quality stuff, but a lot of the photography on here is amazing. Amatures and professionals alike produce some of the greatest stuff. I don't just come here for the articles.

Anyway, photojournalism isn't dead. It's hibernating until we can adapt to the changes.

To the point on journalists vs TV personalities. Real journalists still exist, they are just drowned out by the talking heads. They will make a come back too.

Anonymous's picture

The media/news revolution was happening before the election and we really saw it take shape during the Ferguson protests. I am a photojournalist and just happen to live in Ferguson, so I saw what was really happening and what the media was reporting and not reporting.

We're in an interesting time right now. Last year the National Press Photographers Association put out a promo video promoting the need for real news photographers. One of the newspapers they highlighted was a small paper in Iowa, with a readership of 10,000. I thought that's not a lot of people and any one of us is able to have a following of many more than than on any social media platform.

The definition of media is changing. There are smaller outlets, like the Huffington Post for example, which obviously is leaning left and has a biased point of view. And there are smaller outlets than that doing something similar, pushing their own agendas. But what we've learned over the past couple of years is that the mainstream media is also pushing an agenda, so they're not any better than some of these other outlets.

David Justice's picture

So is it safe to say the vlog was completely made for Beme then? Started as a way to talk about the company. Ended as CNN buys the company. They also "buy" Casey as well in that deal.

I'm not trying to villify Casey in any way, I love what he does. But I do think that there were some ulterior motives involved with the vlog. At least at first. Then as the company fails, in one of the most competitive markets there is don't get me wrong, he sells the company and ends the Vlog in some sort of deal with CNN.

All the luck to Casey for whatever he does in the future. The man is one of the best.

His brand is his business. If I start a YouTube channel to market myself as a photographer by providing something valuable and entertaining for viewers, at the end of the day, the point is money. YouTube allows monetization through ads, so it can appear as though it's just "for fun" even if it's not.

David Justice's picture

No don't get me wrong, I understand that. I don't know. It just seems a large point of the Vlog was for Beme promotion. I don't really know how to describe it, but the timing of the Vlog ending and the CNN buyout just seems like Casey ended it to work for CNN.

To be completely honest it doesn't matter either way. I just like thinking about the behind the scenes of business decisions.

I think the vlog ending and the CNN deal coinciding can't possibly be a coincidence. If I'm right, I think it was somewhat disingenuous the way he ended it, saying he was just tired, not because he had something big in the works, etc. It doesn't feel the most transparent.

I recall in the early vlogs he was very clear several times that a significant motivator was to promote Beme. No secret there.

Whether ending it has anything to do with Beme I don't know, since it turned into a 7 figure income on its own he certainly could have justified keeping it going even without Beme.

Martin Moore's picture

I'm just here to thank Lee Morris for being such a major inspiration to me and to also convince him to get his ass on Twitter.