CNN News 18 attracts Millennials through short video segments

By Shelley Seale


Austin, Texas, United States

Zakka Jacob, DY executive editor at CNN News 18, said it’s always a challenge to attract Millennials. Speaking at INMA’s South Asia News Media Conference in New Delhi, Jacob explained his company's approach to this audience.

“You tend to imagine that they have lesser attention spans and they’re generally not in tune with the news.” However, for a television company like CNN News 18, Jacob said one thing that works very well for them are short videos: “Two-minute, three-minute sort of explainers do really well. They get a lot of page views, they get shared a lot on social media — particularly by young people.”

These short videos perform so well with the Millennial audience for CNN News 18 that about six or eight months ago, the news media company created an entire new team, called Insight 18, dedicated to making the videos.

“From a predominately TV company, this is one of the avenues that has seemed to work out well as far as how you can attract younger audiences,” Jacob said. They are also getting more into the newer social media channels like Snapchat and Instagram.

“The notion that young people are just not interested in the news I think is the wrong one,” Jacob said. “I think they are just as, perhaps more, interested in the news than non-Millennials are. It’s just that you need to be able to keep their attention.”

As an example, he has found that long reads don’t do as well with the Millennial audience, but anything with an audio-visual component, multi-media, and “infotainment” does well.

“I think it’s about holding their attention, and I think it’s disingenuous for a media company to think that young people will read an article that’s four scrolls long,” Jacob said. “So you’ve got to cater to that.”

On the plus side, Jacob added, reporters can simply pick up a mobile phone and shoot stuff that can go viral with this audience. “That sort of reduces costs that are incurred in media companies in a big way. This kind of thing would have been impossible 10 years ago. It’s an opportunity for media companies.”

About Shelley Seale

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