The Hustle

CNN suits can’t cage Casey Neistat

Back in November 2016, CNN had dropped $25m on digital storytelling platform, Beme -- mainly to acquire its creator, celebrity vlogger Casey Neistat. Well, just over a year later, CNN and Neistat are pulling the plug on the project, citing,...


January 26, 2018

Back in November 2016, CNN had dropped $25m on digital storytelling platform, Beme — mainly to acquire its creator, celebrity vlogger Casey Neistat.

Well, just over a year later, CNN and Neistat are pulling the plug on the project, citing, in so many words, “irreconcilable differences.”

At the time, the move seemed revolutionary: CNN planned to incorporate Neistat’s vlogging expertise into their new digital strategy to reach ‘cord nevers’ (people who’ve never had a cable subscription).

But, even Neistat couldn’t work his magic

In an interview with BuzzFeed News, Neistat says he struggled to figure out a “viable strategy” for ‘Beme News’.

Not to mention the good ol’ red tape that comes with working for a massive corporation: Beme’s 22-person team has produced just 40 videos since the acquisition — most less than 10 minutes long — many of which have gained fewer than 100k views apiece (a fraction of the multiple millions Neistat’s personal vlogs get on a daily basis).

So, like any frustrated creative, Neistat went rogue

He started “disappearing” on CNN and producing videos on his personal YouTube channel just to “be able to yield something.”

Neistat acknowledges that neither party was benefiting from the partnership, and it’s a cautionary tale for big companies trying to harness web content: Solo creators are used to doing what they want, when they want — the antithesis of big cable productions.

And, at the end of the day, all the resources in the world can’t make a mismatched partnership productive.

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