Why Sweden matters to CNN – and how the network increased its presence in the countryAftonbladet, Greg Beitchman, Expressen. Photo: Screenshots/Press

Why Sweden matters to CNN – and how the network increased its presence in the country

Publicerad: 16 March 2016, kl. 9:44

Late last year, Swedish newspaper Expressen announced it had signed a deal with the American network CNN. Expressen called itself an affiliate of CNN.

Adam Jönsson

Just as 2015 turned 2016, Expressen biggest competitor, Aftonbladet, also announced it had inked a partnership with CNN.

The two similar deals points to a shift in the digital media industry. The American broadcaster chose to work with two Swedish media outlets with a tradition in print.

Smashdig got in touch with Greg Beitchman, Vice President, Content Sales and Partnerships, at CNN International to ask him about the deal and what it means for the future of the media market in Scandinavia and the world.

Smashdig: Why is it important to CNN to collaborate with Swedish partners?
   Greg Beitchman: The Content Sales and Partnerships team that I head up at CNN International collaborates with hundreds of linear and digital publishers all over the world. It’s long been in CNN’s DNA to work closely with trusted partners to share the very best of our content, journalism and expertise, as well as expand our own footprint and ability to cover breaking news and stories, wherever they occur. I am delighted that we now have strengthened our presence in Sweden – both in providing CNN content to Expressen and Aftonbladet, and in also increasing our capacity to cover news out of the country.

SD: How interesting is Sweden to CNN’s audience?
   GB: CNN and our audience is interested in news, wherever it happens. By its very nature, news is usually unpredictable, and I feel confident that next time there is major breaking news in Sweden, we will be incredibly well positioned to tell that story to our international audience. More broadly, Sweden’s role in the ongoing stories of our time – European diplomacy, the migrant/refugee crisis and so on – is of direct interest to our audience.

Read more: Mattsson on CNN deal: Expressen not on losing side

SD: You’ve inked deals with Aftonbladet and Expressen, why did you chose to work with both of these news outlets?
   GB: Aftonbladet and Expressen are both great partners for us – both in the sense that that we are proud for CNN content to feature as part of their output, but also we know they have the journalistic pedigree and production capabilities for us to rely on if we require their content or assistance in covering a story out of Sweden. They are also innovating impressively in digital media which is so vital for our industry – this is an area we love to partner on.

SD: Why did you choose to work with two evening papers rather than traditional broadcasters such as Television of Sweden or TV4?
   GB: CNN is a content business, not a TV business. In today’s modern media landscape, being a traditional broadcaster isn’t a pre-requisite of being one of our affiliate content partners. We’re working with Aftonbladet and Expressen because of their innovation in media, their journalistic pedigree and production capabilities. We will work with players across the industry – from print publishers transitioning to digital, to broadcasters who want to grow their audiences on mobile devices. o ignored

SD: What do you think these deals say about the global media market we are in right now?
   GB: Look, it’s really exciting – I personally have more access to news and content then I could ever have imagined, but this also means we are in a media landscape where every news organisation has to prove its relevance. That could be through great journalism, technological innovation or being the best distributed. I relish working at CNN because we have disrupted the industry ever since Ted Turner first launched cable news in 1980. I really think we have a choice – we can continue to disrupt, or we can be the disrupted. I know which I prefer. To this end, partnerships matter – we share our expertise not just for our success but hopefully to help the industry as a whole.

Read more: Swedish Aftonbladet TV signs deals with CNN, Al Jazeera

SD: Swedish media experts who have commented on these collaborations say the Swedish news outlets might be the winners as it’s unlikely CNN would want to feature content from Sweden but that the Swedish news outlets will feature CNN material prominently. What’s you view of this argument?
   GB: I see it purely as win-win, and I hope that Aftonbladet and Expressen use as much of our content as they can. It’s great exposure for the CNN brand in Sweden beyond the popularity of viewership of CNN International, and there are lots of interesting ways that our partnerships can develop.

SD: It’s been a few months since these deals took effect, what have reactions been like?
   GB: It’s all been very positive, and I can only see it getting better as the international news agenda continues apace with the progress of the US Elections and news coverage around huge sporting events such as European Championships 2016 and the Rio Olympics.

SD: What’s your view of the collaborations with these Swedish news outlets so far? Are you satisfied?
   GB: We are very happy with the collaborations. They are exceeding our expectations.

SD: Can we expect more similar deals with other Swedish or Nordic news outlets in the future?
   GB: Definitely watch this space for similar deals with other Nordic news outlets.

This interview was conducted via email. It has been very slightly edited for clarity and length.

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