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Tech Future of TV App

CNN launches new 'Politics' app as election heats up


By Natan Edelsburg, SVP

May 4, 2016 | 5 min read

As the election heats up, CNN just launched a new Politics app, now available for download on iOS. The data-focused app will help those following the election understand what's happening at any moment and why. Found Remote interviewed Ed O’Keefe, CNN’s Senior Vice President, who oversees CNN Politics.

Found Remote: What are the main new features of the app?

Ed O’Keefe: The CNN Politics app is the button you push on your phone when you want the answer to the question, "who's winning and why?"

The 2016 U.S. election has been an incredible, roller coaster ride - but also confusing and complicated. Delegates, super delegates, the possibility of a contested convention - our app breaks down a complex election into understandable stories. It's a data driven experience, focusing on the demographics driving this race.

We will explore the polling, exit polls, past results, the delegate math, battleground index, and the big, breaking news and enterprise stories of this incredible election.

It’s simple, easy, and intuitive.

FR: Who did you work with to build it?

EO: CNN Politics contemplated launching an app in 2015 but ultimately decided to focus on rebuilding our mobile web, video and real time results experiences.

We assembled the best team in politics - Rachel Smolkin, Z. Byron Wolf, Dianna Heitz, Steven Sloan - and incredible writers and reporters - Maeve Reston, Chris Moody, Nia-Malika Henderson, MJ Lee, and Stephen Collinson, just to name a few - and we wanted to develop products that could bring their breaking news and enterprise reporting to life in the best way for our users.

Then CA Technologies came to CNN. They were the perfect technology partner to bring our app to life. Their software enabled our team to include multiple data sources including CNN-ORC polling data, FEC numbers and the CNN - Pivit Political Prediction Market.

FR: What KPIs will you be looking for?

EO: Engagement. We want daily, active users who want an answer to the question, "who's winning and why?"

2016 is the data election and, in many ways, the data is a reflection of an emerging America. Americans - on both sides of the aisles - are clearly angry, dissatisfied with government and looking for authenticity and change. What will that mean in 2016?

The key to the story at the end of the day is the data.

Juana Summers, the newest addition to our stellar team, is the voice of the app. Juana, with help of Dianna Heitz, Eli Watkins, and Z. Byron Wolf, is going to dive into the demographics. What can we learn and predict? When is the past prologue? And how can we better understand how our country is changing, what issues are driving the conversation, and what life is like in America by listening to the people's voice.

FR: Why a standalone app?

EO: An app should only exist if it offers a differentiated proposition in the marketplace - an app that is just a prettier version of what's on your website will quickly become a useless bookmark on a user's phone.

The best apps are relevant to the user's daily life; they serve a purpose, they answer a need or a question.

The CNN Politics app answers the question, "who's winning and why?"

FR: What happens after the election?

EO: Post-election, we will shift the app to focus on the new president, the relationship between the White House and Congress, the new Senate and House and the major debates - both social and economic - of our time. But it will remain a data-centric app - because the numbers tell the story.

FR: Anything else?

EO: CNN has dominated politics in 2016. 3 of the 5 highest rated events in the history of cable. 1 year as the #1 source of breaking + enterprise news on CNN's coverage has become so ubiquitous with 2016 that our coverage is part of a living exhibit at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

The CNN Politics app is a fantastic addition to what has been an incredible election.

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