CNN Gets It (Streaming Video to be Free)

    May 25, 2007

CNN has long held out with its paid video subscription model, especially for its streaming “Pipeline,” started in 2005 and priced at $25/year.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports:

There are several reasons to give up charging. For one, it is has become much cheaper to deliver video, Martin said. “Today, bandwidth is much less expensive than when CNN Pipeline launched, and online news consumers are streaming broadband video at a much greater rate.”

Moreover, it appears CNN was unable to overcome the popular notion that, like butterflies, clicks are free. Figuring the Net-consumer might simply prefer smaller bites, CNN added variations on the pricing, offering monthly access for $2.95 and even a 99-cent day pass.

They also offered free news on “big news days,” such as the 5th anniversary of September 11th—which, incidentally, was their highest traffic day ever, with 1.2 million viewers. Pipeline carried no ads, but it did carry multiple streams of news.

After this month, Pipeline will be free. It will be folded into other services starting in July. Some subscribers will be refunded.

I think the biggest reason CNN changed their mind is because they’ve long been mulling over our posts “Give Away the Milk: People Still Buy the Cow” and “Give Away the Milk: Slap Ads on the Cow,” trying to decide which would be better for them.

I know the free content web economy will eat this up, but is it a good move for CNN? How can they best leverage their newly-free video content?