CNN parts ways with YouTube star Casey Neistat

Less than two years after CNN acquired YouTube star Casey Neistat's Beme video app for a reported $25 million, the cable channel has cut ties with the maker of online viral films.

According to BuzzFeed, Beme is "effectively shutting down," and Neistat and co-founder Matt Hackett leaving the company. In an interview with the news site, Neistat said he is focusing on producing videos for his YouTube channel, conceding that he was unable to develop a viable strategy for the program for younger viewers.

"I don't think I'm giving CNN what I want to give them, and I don't think they're getting value from me,"  he told BuzzFeed.

Neistat, whose YouTube channel has more than 8 million subscribers, couldn't immediately be reached for comment. A CNN spokesperson didn't respond to an email requesting comment.   

When  Time Warner (TWX)-owned CNN bought Beme in late 2016, the deal was seen as a way for CNN to attract more millennial viewers. But the partnership was dogged by what BuzzFeed called "creative conflicts and sluggish progress." 

Only a few dozen videos were published on the Beme YouTube channel, which CNN will leave up. The broadcaster will find new jobs for most of the 21-person Beme team, BuzzFeed reported.

Media companies are struggling to compete wtih Facebook (FB) and Google in online advertising and the surging popularity of low-cost "programmatic" ads. The well-known tech website Mashable sold itself to Ziff-Davis in December for less than $50 million.

BuzzFeed's plans for a 2018 initial public offering are on shaky ground after the news outlet missed its 2017 revenue goal of $350 million by as much as 20 percent, according to The Wall Street Journal (subscription), which has also reported that Vice Media is likely to fall short of its revenue goals for the year.

  • Jonathan Berr On Twitter»

    Jonathan Berr is an award-winning journalist and podcaster based in New Jersey whose main focus is on business and economic issues.