CNN’s “Style” show is in limbo after the departure of its host, Derek Blasberg, WWD has learned.
Blasberg started his two-year stint at CNN as host of its “Style” show, a half-hour monthly segment that launched on CNN International with Blasberg’s hiring. The show featured Blasberg, a fashion reporter and editor known for his friendly connections to some of the industry’s most high-profile fixtures, speaking with people in design, art and entertainment or working in a docu-style at fashion shows and other related industry events.
CNN hasn’t decided what to do with the show, according to a source, with the likely options being to find a new host or cancel the program. The latter option poses the least amount of risk, obviously, but having a personality-driven segment complemented and likely brought more attention to the network’s online style vertical, also launched in 2016. The sourced added that CNN is still keen to have style coverage on TV, and is continuing with the online vertical, regardless of whether “Style” continues.
Some of the uncertainty could stem from AT&T’s recent acquisition of CNN parent Time Warner. The new conglomerate has been dubbed WarnerMedia and its new chief executive officer John Stankey has spoken on CNN of the network’s importance, but mainly related to covering the fractious political climate. Nonetheless, a post-acquisition performance review of operations wouldn’t be surprising.
But it’s possible that Blasberg’s position with CNN was up for a change well before he revealed on Monday via Instagram and Twitter that he was set to become YouTube’s director of fashion and beauty, a new position at the Google-owned video streaming platform. His last segment of “Style” looks to have been August of last year, when he took a trip to the Hamptons to talk with Tory Burch and Gwyneth Paltrow. A new season should have started earlier this year. He started posting videos to YouTube in March, the first being a “Style” show compilation, but his few subsequent videos, including one with Sienna Miller and one with Katy Perry, appear to be independent of CNN.
What exactly Blasberg’s new gig at YouTube will entail remains to be seen, but the platform has been making a push into original programming and now has a bit more competition with Instagram’s long-form video launch, branded as IGTV.
While it’s unlikely that YouTube’s popularity with advertisers and influencers alike, who have flocked to the platform because of its easy access and popularity with younger consumers, will take any major hit from IGTV, making a relatively high-profile hire to lead the fashion and beauty direction of the platform is a signal that it’s still very serious about the sections. Beauty in particular is a huge portion of influencer videos on YouTube and thus advertising dollars. It also seems to be a very belated answer to Instagram’s hiring of Eva Chen, who became the platform’s head of partnerships in 2015.
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