Just as I got off the stage at NewTeeVee Live with CNN Worldwide VP of Digital Marketing and Development Andy Mitchell, I saw a report that CNN is cutting back on its web video newscasts. The company laid off its four CNN.com Live anchors as well as “several production staffers,” according WebNewser.
CNN.com Live launched as a free service in 2007 to replace the paid web service CNN Pipeline, which failed to gather many subscribers. Up till today, it had its own staff of anchors completely separate from the cable TV channel.
I followed up with Mitchell in the green room to ask about the layoffs, and he said that CNN is in no way pulling away from online video. However, linear, anchor-led broadcasts are more appropriate for television than for the web. He emphasized that CNN.com is all about web video, citing its recent redesign.
Mitchell said CNN expects to expand its coverage of major live events, which is exactly what we’d just been talking about onstage. A memo obtained by WebNewser said CNN expects to hire seven original video production staff by the end of the year.
When I interviewed him along with Facebook’s Randi Zuckerberg this afternoon, Mitchell said to expect a major collaboration between the two companies next year around an event they hope will rival the success of the Obama inauguration, which had 1.3 million simultaneous viewers at peak and 25 million total streams on CNN.com’s live feed accompanied by Facebook status messages. He and Zuckerberg declined to provide further details about the project.