CNN launches consultancy arm, but will not compete with agencies – says media owner

Global media owner CNN has entered the consultancy game with a new arm, CNN Reach, launching in Singapore and London – as the company insists its can no longer just be a media company.

The new offering will cover everything from creating campaign content to strategy advice and even execution through media buying both via its own media assets and external platforms, as well as audience targeting and analytics.


Already, the branded content studio run by CNN – named Create – is said to account for 60 per cent of the company’s revenue. By widening the suite of commercial products further, the firm could in effect be competing with both agencies and consultancies.

At the same time, the consultancies are encroaching on the agency space while the agencies are keen to climb up the value chain and offer more consultancy services.

Launching with only four people and led by London-based Leo Urushibata, the company’s director of content optimisation, CNN Reach will be a small player to start with.

But the media owner indicated that it planned to grow the team quickly, according to a report on Digiday. And Mumbrella understands that the team in Singapore will work across Asia-Pacific projects as well as supporting international work. The first client onboard is said to be a tourism board.

Urushibata, director of content optimisation, will lead CNN Reach

In addition, members of the international editorial and commercial teams will support CNN Reach projects.

“It’s imperative we continue to evolve the model like this,” said Rob Bradley, vice-president of digital commercial strategy and revenue at CNN. “We can’t just be media companies anymore, and this is one step toward that.

“If you look at the rise of the management consultancies in this space and who they are hiring, it’s people from media owners and media agencies because we’re well-placed to offer these services.”

‘It’s imperative we evolve the model like this,’ said Bradley

But Bradley insisted the media owner would not directly compete with agencies in an already crowded market. “CNN Reach will bring in new clients and new incremental revenue,” he said.

“The kind of insights we’ll give to clients and agencies will bring us much closer to them. The aim is to give them real business value beyond just delivering the message.

“The agency will have a view across what else the client is doing and across how what they’re doing with us compares to their competitors. It’s different to what some media owners are saying, which is that they’re eating agency business. This is just as much for agencies as it is for brands direct.”


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