In a deal worth an estimated $25 million, CNN has acquired flagship vlogger Casey Neistat’s video-sharing app Beme.
The buyout comes days after Neistat announced he would be quitting his daily vlog series after more than two years of near-daily uploads.
CNN is opting to shut down the Beme app, which has struggled to retain users ever since the app’s launch mid-2015. Instead, CNN is looking at the talent and technology behind the app. CNN will fund the launch of a new standalone media brand, bringing on all 11 of Beme’s employees. The new entity will focus on “timely and topical video and empowering content creators to use technology to find their voice,” according to a press release.
“Casey has tapped into nearly six million really powerful viewers, most of which do not tune in to CNN,” Andrew Morse, global head of CNN Digital, told The New York Times. “To build this audience authentically, we believe we need to build something new.”
It’s important to note that this isn’t a talent buyout deal. Neistat will still retain full ownership of his YouTube channel and other social accounts, which will continue to operate independently of his partnership with CNN.
“It’s going to be very different from Beme and bigger than a single product,” said Neistat, in an interview with The Verge. “There is a tremendous distrust between the audience that watches my content online and the information that is put out by traditional media. Our broad ambition is to figure out a way with tech and media to bridge the gigantic divide.”
Neistat will take the role of executive producer, while Beme’s co-founder and former Tumblr executive Matt Hackett will lead technology. Both will serve as co-founders of the new media company, along with CNN’s Andrew Morse and Chris Berend.
The new project with CNN is slated for a summer 2017 launch.