At Evolving CNN, Lifestyle Is News

CNN pursuing new strategy with programming in food and lifestyle categories

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CNN is moving into the lifestyle and food
programming arena, and the network is adding
new advertisers in the process.

The move is part of a new strategy CNN
is pursuing in reaction to its faltering ratings
in primetime.

“Broadening the scope of news means providing
more travel, health, wellness and lifestyle
programming that quite honestly we’ve done
very well with in the past, so we’re going back
to our roots a little bit,” says Greg D’Alba, president
of CNN News Networks and Turner Digital
ad sales and marketing.

The strategy is meant to make CNN “essential
every day, not just when there’s breaking news
and not just when we’re in a political season,”
D’Alba says. “As we go to market with these
strategies, we’re looking for bigger deals and
agencies to recognize us and provide options for
any brand across this entire roster of news.”

One of the first shows in the new vein is
Parts Unknown, starring bad-boy chef Anthony
Bourdain, whose show had been on the Travel
Channel, owned by Scripps Networks Interactive,
the leader in lifestyle programming.

Food is a natural avenue for CNN, D’Alba
says. “Food takes us to more places within
more cultures than most competitors are capable
of providing,” he says.

The new programming is already attracting
ad dollars in new categories.

MillerCoors, a big advertiser on other Turner
networks but not on CNN, signed as a launch
sponsor of Parts Unknown; BMW also signed on
as a sponsor of Bourdain’s show. Similarly, CNN
Films is attracting non-traditional sponsors.
Procter & Gamble, for example, is sponsoring
the film Girl Rising.

D’Alba expects the lifestyle programming to
win back viewers who left news to watch other
nonfiction-based content.

“You look at upscale, affluent-reaching
programs across the board that are non-news
based, we’re going to draw more of those consumers,”
D’Alba says.