CNN.com Launches Free Video With Sponsorships From Chase, GM

CNN.com this morning is set to launch its free video initiative, with banking giant Chase and car manufacturer General Motors as initial sponsors, said Greg D'Alba, executive vice president-COO of CNN Advertising Sales and Marketing. He added that the Web site currently is engaged in "upfront" discussions--or talks about advance sales for the upcoming "season"--with more than 50 national advertisers.

"We're seeing more interest in video than we did 25 years ago when we got into cable, because everyone is embracing this technology and its potential," D'Alba said. "Everybody was calling cable a revolution back then, but today this technology is seen as part of a larger evolution."

Chase and GM's luxury brand Cadillac each will have category exclusivity, tagged promotional spots on all CNN Networks, and promotional banners throughout CNN.com--as well as the opportunity to run 30-second on-air creative prior to content. Both will also be able to air long-form lead-out creative and a 728 X 90 web banner, according to a CNN spokeswoman.

Access to CNN.com's broadband video--which is woven throughout the site on section fronts, special reports, and story pages--previously cost $4.95 a month. CNN.com's initiative to make its video content available, while a bid for more traffic and ad dollars, also reflects the background of CNN President Jonathan Klein. He came to the Turner Broadcasting unit from the FeedRoom, a company he founded that builds broadband Web sites and streams online content.

Visitors will be able to view various on-demand videos across a variety of topics, including politics, world news, business, sports, entertainment, science, and technology. A specially designed video player--attached to a 728 x 90 banner--will allow users to search and organize videos. CNN also plans to offer marketers the opportunity to run ads up to 30 seconds long.

But CNN hasn't completely separated itself from the paid subscription model. In the fall, CNN.com will offer a subscription-based service that will deliver multiple live video streams, access to CNN's video archives, and user-customized options. A price for the service has not yet been set.

CNN.com claims to rank as the leading online news and information site, attracting an average of 23 million unique users each month.

While CNN averaged more unique visitors over the past 12 months than any other online news source, in April, CNN drew a unique audience of about 20.8 million--behind MSNBC and Yahoo! News, each of which drew about 23 million unique visitors--according to Nielsen//NetRatings. CNN does not consider Yahoo! News or AOL News--which ranked fourth in April according to comScore--"competitors, since they are aggregators, while CNN publishes only its own content," according to a CNN spokeswoman.