Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

How to Watch CNN for Free, Without Paying for Cable*

cnnburnett380Wouldn’t it be great to watch cable programming without having to pay cable programmers?

CNN sort of hears you, cord-cutters, cord-nevers and other non-pay-TV-payers: Head over to CNN.com. Scroll down a tiny bit. See that box on the right? It’s playing CNN’s live TV feed, right now.

Of course, there’s a catch. You can watch CNN on CNN.com for free, on a small box.

But you can’t hear it.

If you want the full monty, you’ll need to click on the video, which will send you to an “authentication” login. And then you’ll have to prove to CNN that you are a subscriber to one of the big pay TV operators it has a deal with.* If you can do that, you’re in.

CNN has had an authentication deal since 2011 — it’s part of the “TV Everywhere” push Time Warner’s Jeff Bewkes has been making for years. But the box on CNN’s home page, which showed up this morning, is a new twist. CNN.com will offer the live-but-mute stream every day from 7 am ET until 11 pm.

CNN won’t run ads on its CNN.com home page, which makes sense, because Nielsen won’t give them credit for the eyeballs. “This is about awareness,” CNN.com KC Estenson said. “It’s about reminding people that CNN has a television network.”

* Do you have Time Warner Cable or Cablevision? In that case, no live CNN over the Web for you.


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald