Casey Neistat Parting Ways with CNN, Beme

Casey Neistat Parting Ways with CNN, Beme

Casey Nesitat, popular and polarizing YouTube personality and filmmaker, is leaving CNN and Beme, the video sharing app he co-founded with Matt Hackett. CNN acquired Beme in 2016 to great fanfare at a reported price tag of $25 million, envisioning Neistat and his team as the key to expanding their digital news brand. So what happened?

CNN's acquisition of Beme was a strategic attempt to leverage Neistat's talent and enormous social media following, driving new viewers towards their programming and digital properties. The Beme app was to be shuttered and transformed into a digital news platform, with Neistat and his team fashioning a brand that would appeal to millennial audiences.

Those plans have apparently come to naught with Neistat voicing frustration with his inability to come up with a viable strategy for the venture. He told BuzzFeed News, "I couldn’t find answers. I would sort of disappear, and I would hide, and I would make YouTube videos for my channel because at least I would be able yield something...I don’t think I’m giving CNN what I want to give them, and I don’t think they’re getting value from me."

Beme never found its place at CNN, as the team struggled to define and make progress with the new digital brand. The Beme News YouTube channel has only published 41 videos, a far cry from plans to create daily news content. Neistat himself has gone back to creating videos and vlogs for his popular YouTube channel over the past few months, slowly immersing himself back into what he knows best.

CNN has said that it will try to find positions in the company for many members of Beme's 22-person team, but some people will be let go. While Beme will no longer be a standalone business at CNN, the company will continue to house and develop its technology and digital products.

In a new video, Neistat candidly discusses his departure but does not offer any answers as to what his future holds. Odds are good that he will continue to create his entertaining and wildly popular vlogs and tech reviews. In fact, just three days ago, he released a fantastic video reviewing the new Mavic Air

Lead Image by TechCrunch (Creative Commons 2.0 license).

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21 Comments

That was a short romance.

Allen Reid's picture

I never had the sense that they had much direction as far as covering news events. I remember a couple Neistat videos where he said they were still trying to figure it out. They should've had someone in place for that like a news director of sorts. Anyway, like everyone says, he made his money so all is good, right?

16mm Camera's picture

It's a good way to fail for sure...if it's even a failure? I mean the company was bought for WELL more than it was worth (venture capitalists would be happy), Casey would as well given he is a founder. The terms were pretty clear last year as to what was planned (details weren't) but clear enough for him to get the cover of Vanity F with CNN's other "top news men".

Then it seems when the "tough got going" Casey "hid away and made youtube videos"...which is MY personal issue with it as a guy who sells "work harder" and get paid to give motivational speeches.

George Popescu's picture

Dudes, he said in his video why he left CNN, he can't play with a team, he wants to do what he wants to do and not answer to anyone. So, because CNN told him to play with his team he probably felt he doesn't have enough creative control and he left, these are pretty much his exact words.

There are some people that are extremely good at what they currently do. That does not mean that they'll be good at everything. The news involves the truth and reporting on that. Sometimes there's just not enough creative room in truth telling to be entertaining and different.

Simon Patterson's picture

Creating "the news" is to use current events to produce a narrative that is acceptable to the publisher.

Sometimes the creative direction required to pull that off is not a direction that the narrator is comfortable with. I wonder if that is the case here? I hope it is, but I suspect that a non disclosure agreement, combined with a healthy dose of self preservation, will prevent Neistat from ever telling us that.

The truth is a by-product of the news narrative to a greater or lesser extent, depending on what has been communicated between the reporter and the publisher. So, to follow "the news" is always to follow a narrative. That narrative is generated within bounds that were set before the "newsworthy event" of a given day took place.

This has always been so. Anyone who thinks the news has ever been just about "the truth", no matter which channel they followed, has rocks in their head.

Dallas Dahms's picture

Before anybody jumps on me let me state that I am neither pro nor anti Trump. I'm not even American. But I do have an opinion about CNN and it is that they are a joke. They are not even a news organisation anymore. They are just an opinion agency. The proof of that only requires a 5 minute exposure to their broadcast.

Whenever I happen to flick across to CNN there is some or other panel discussion going on in relation to the Trump presidency. They have actually become so deeply embroiled in their personal campaign against Trump that they have forgotten their responsibility to report the *actual* news to the world.

I wouldn't want to be associated with their brand either (and I am not a huge fan of Neistat).

Aneesh Kothari's picture

While you are of course entitled to your opinion regarding CNN, just to be clear, Neistat isn't leaving due to not wanting "to be associated with their brand." Obviously things didn't work out, but not due to the reasons you seem to imply in your comment. Thanks for reading and weighing in!

Dallas Dahms's picture

It obviously wouldn't be in his best interests to speak poorly of them, but seriously, as a brand they are headlong in the toilet right now. Not a place anybody with creative ambition would want to be. Unless they particularly like that view of the world.

Casey Neistat probably did his career a huge favour by walking away from them at this point.

Simon Patterson's picture

I have enjoyed watching Neistat's content for a few years and it did appear that his association with a large media organisation was a disastrous decision for him personally.

He had produced content for paid clients for a long time before this, but once he hopped into bed with the "news" outlet, he noticeably changed to come across as a shill for a certain world view.

I think he lost a great deal of credibility with his viewers as a result, which he will have to work hard to regain.

michael andrew's picture

You have your opinions, tell us what is your take on Fox News? You see “mass media” is a revenue stream, and just like any corporate entity they have a primary goal to fulfill their fiscal duties to their shareholders ect. I am
Not making an excuse for the “evolution” of journalism in America (or the world) just some insight into why it is so absurdly biased.

Dallas Dahms's picture

We don't get Fox News in South Africa so I have no opinion on them. My comment is based on what I have seen happening on CNN since the election last year. It's not a news channel anymore. Sorry.

Chris Collins's picture

Dallas, it wouldn't matter if you are in South Africa, South America or the South Pole...your take is dead on the money.

Simon Patterson's picture

TV has come a long way in South Africa, Dallas. I remember the days when SABC came on at about 3:30 or 4:00 each afternoon with a children's show, then after other programs including the news, off again at around 10 or 11pm. The afternoon and evening shows alternated between English and Afrikaans, swapping each day. They broadcast the test pattern for some of the rest of the day, but for most of the day, all the TV showed (if it was switched on) was a violent snowstorm!

Now you even have a feed from an American "news" channel - you've really gone up in the world! 😂

Dallas Dahms's picture

I'm old enough to remember when TV first made its appearance here in 1976! Programs used to start at 1800 and it was all over by 2200. The first show I remember watching was the western Bonanza which aired on Friday nights at about 7pm. Entire neighbourhoods would cram into the living rooms of those fortunate enough to own a set just to watch. When I was 12 they began showing Dallas on Tuesday nights after the news and my whole world changed... 🤠 (not for the better, I should add!).

Now we have satellite television with hundreds of channels of crap. I have downgraded my package to almost the bottom end but still they force CNN on me (just goes to show that they are most definitely not considered "premium" fare, unlike Sky News which is only available on upper packages here).

Simon Patterson's picture

Ha ha, Bonanza, that's a blast from the past! We actually lived in Botswana, but just across the border from RSA so we could *just* get TV reception. Botswana didn't have any TV broadcast at all back then.

We got TV in about 1982 or 1983. I remember watching "Die Man Van Staal" - didn't know a word of Afrikaans (except what I read in the bilingual breakfast cereal packaging) but found it entertaining anyway! :-)

I've lived in Australia since 1985 and have watched little TV since. I didn't even have a TV in the 1990's and much of the 2000s, and barely watch it now. I imagine our TV offerings here in Australia are probably just as crap as yours are these days. I figure TV is only for the elderly and the gullible nowadays, anyway.

16mm Camera's picture

Fair comment towards CNN, I don’t particularly like them or any 24 news agency for that matter. Of course it’s filled with opinion pieces because they don’t involve facts and sources. This speaks to all news organizations who went 24 hours. There simply enough enough human power to constantly be churning that out with how many hours and advertiser demands they need to meet.

Simon Patterson's picture

I haven't watched CNN or any US "news" agency for years, but you just described what I remember of all of them. I wouldn't want to be associated with any of them.

Adam T's picture

I wondering how long he's been made to wait before being able cash out

16mm Camera's picture

Was pretty obvious it was just a formality as he quite clearly checked out 7 months ago. Most people were just waiting for this news to drop as Beme wasn’t part of his narrative for months given all the free time he has to do so many other unrelated things.