Why Did CNN Buy the Mostly Innocuous Video Sharing App “Beme”?

Beme is a mobile app that allows users to shoot and share quick, unedited video clips.
It is an odd little project from YouTube vlogger Casey Neistat who appears to be more obsessed with authenticity of production than anything else. Indeed, Neistat touted the app as a marked symbol of “realness” that was hellbent on the disruption of the facade of social media.

That is nothing really all that new when you look at Vine, SnapChat, and the video capabilities of various other mobile social media apps. Similarly, the app allows for users to upload 8 second video clips—without an option to preview or to edit—and it was originally launched in July of 2015. At first it reportedly raised $2.6 million in seed funding with approxiamtely 1.1 million shared videos in its first week.

However, as Neistat once reported, “At the end of [2015], we had a harsh realization that we were not such a shining star and were much more aligned with other social media launches. Downloads slowed to a few thousand a day from a much more robust number and active engagement because a lot less than what it was.”

Perhaps the release of Beme, originally, was short-sighted. Even if you have heard of it (nobody would blame you if haven’t) the app never really made an impact—in one way or another—through the depths of the social media using/sharing audience.

So why is CNN buying it?

Well, for one, CNN is not only buying the app, but the app development team in an effort to “launch a new media brand dedicated to timely and topical video content powered by bleeding edge mobile technology.”

And, in the process, CNN will shut down Beme.

CNN vice president of communications, Matt Dornic, explains “Going after millennials [was a] huge part of it. We’re realistic in knowing we have to diversify. Casey and Matt reach an audience we don’t.”

Indeed, the younger, mobile, profitable generation sees CNN as stodgy, old, and stifled. Dornic dares remind that some people at the news outlet are , indeed, “cool” but it is a matter of finding new ways to engage this fast-evolving and highly-loyal demographic.