At a South by Southwest media preview Monday, the general manager of CNN Digital demonstrated an upcoming “TV everywhere” service that will enable users to seamlessly switch between their mobile devices, computers and Google TV to watch live CNN video.
The service requires people to sign in with their cable provider on the CNN app. Once they’re signed in, they can create video playlists that automatically sync between their Google TV, computer and mobile devices.
K.C. Estenson also showed off something called “open stories,” which enable users to view CNN content alongside iReport video, and to navigate via a time line and by a map.
In opening the presentation, Estenson said that CNN.com served 342 million page views and 100 million video streams last weekend due to the Japanese earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis. In addition, 500,000 people downloaded mobile and iPad apps.
All three figures are records for a four-day period, according to Jennifer Martin, senior director of public relations for new media and digital networks at CNN. In comparison, CNN.com normally serves about 100 million video streams a month and has about a billion page views a month.
In the live demo, Estenson opened the CNN app on his iPhone and, after logging in with his cable provider, was able to watch the same CNN video that was playing on a television. He also added several videos to his queue. Then he paused the video, went to CNN.com on a computer, and the video picked up where he left off. He was able to do the same thing with the CNN app on a Google TV.
“Your playlist follows you to every device,” he said. “Imagine just building your own CNN – the subjects you love, the topics you love – stacking those videos in your queue and carrying it where you go.”
He noted that he was able to do this across multiple platforms – iOS, Macintosh, Chrome and Android.
The streams use variable bit-rate encoding so they can serve varying qualities of video based on the bandwidth.
Video commenting on stories is also coming.
Estenson talked at some length about the importance of CNN’s iReport, which enables citizen journalists to upload video to the site. There are 750,000 iReporters around the world, and iReports have been submitted from every country. iReports were important in the first 36 hours of the Japan crisis, he said, before CNN reporters could get on the ground.