After a year on Facebook Watch, CNN’s “Anderson Cooper Full Circle” daily news program will leave the social platform next month — and instead will run on the cable news network’s own digital properties starting in September.
At the same time, CNN has set a new show for Facebook Watch slated to debut this summer: “Go There,” described as a single-topic daily news show running 10-15 minutes “built for the next generation of news junkies on Facebook,” according to the network. It will feature a new format in which CNN correspondents in the field will report directly from their mobile devices.
The Cooper show relatively speaking was a hit on Facebook: Episodes of “Full Circle,” which have run Monday-Friday since July 2017, on average have reached 2 million people, according to CNN, and “we know it will perform well on our platforms too,” Andrew Morse, executive VP and GM of CNN Digital Worldwide, wrote in a memo to staff that was obtained by Variety.
Cooper’s “Full Circle” is among the slate of news programming Facebook originally greenlit and funded last summer from nearly two dozen partners — part of the company’s efforts to show it’s supporting credible news content for Facebook, as well as to bring users to Facebook Watch.
Earlier this year, CNN decided to bring Cooper’s show to its owned-and-operated platforms because the show had proved it could attract an audience and the network wanted to gain better economics, by controlling the ad inventory. “Shifting [‘Anderson Cooper Full Circle’] to our own properties is a significant step in our streaming strategy,” Morse wrote in the memo. “This is not a trial. It’s the beginning of something. We waited for the right program to come along to stream on our owned platforms, and now we’ve found it.”
Word of CNN’s changes come as Facebook is touting Watch’s momentum. According to Facebook, the number of users for the video service daily has grown to 140 million, up from 75 million six months ago, and now watch an average of 26 minutes of video daily (although Facebook is counting everyone who watched a minimum of 60 seconds of video).
“Anderson Cooper Full Circle” will end its run on Facebook Watch on July 17 and then take a summer break before resuming on CNN’s digital platforms after Labor Day. CNN’s decision to move “Full Circle” to its own platforms was first reported by BI Prime.
The majority of the audience for “Full Circle” on Facebook was between 13-54, according to Morse. He’s confident the show will find a robust viewership on CNN’s own platforms, noting that in the first quarter of 2019, Anderson’s “AC360” content had 4 million monthly video starts on the CNN mobile app alone, which was up more than six-fold from 2018.
According to Shelley Venus, Facebook’s global video lead for news partnerships, CNN’s move to take “Full Circle” to its owned-and-operated properties fits into the social giant’s original premise in funding news content.
“One of our intentions with the news in Watch program was to incubate new [intellectual property] with partners and figure out where that video content would be more successful for them in the long term with audiences, both on Watch and in general,” she said in a statement. “The CNN team has demonstrated that they are excited to bring the show to CNN’s core fans and site, and in the meantime, we will be applying the lessons learned over the past year to bring a new show to Facebook to test with them.”
CNN said it also will take insights it gleaned from “Anderson Cooper Full Circle” and apply them to “Go There,” which is designed to be a test for a different format.
“We learned a number of things in the first year of the show,” Morse wrote in the staff memo. “We saw patterns in stories that resonated and observed how our audience wants to consume this mobile-first streaming content. Most important, we learned that the show’s real special sauce was the audience’s trust in Anderson and our CNN correspondents in the field.”
Of the 21 news partners Facebook originally funded, it has renewed shows with about one-third of them, including CNN, ABC News, Business Insider, BuzzFeed News, Fox News Channel, Group Nine Media’s NowThis and Univision, according to Facebook.