BARCELONA — CNN relaunched its suite of mobile apps last week to cater to an audience that is smaller than the web but significantly more engaged, the man responsible explains.

The organisation has rebooted its app line-up across phones, tablets and smartwatches, now including live and CNN Go on-demand video plus HLN streams for US users, as well as authentication via users’ pay-TV providers.

“We re-imagined how our consumers are connecting with us on mobile,” says CNN chief product officer Alex Wellen, in this video interview with Beet.TV from Mobile World Congress, the world’s largest mobile industry show.

“We had to go back… where is the consumption happening, why mess with the app?”

The answer is an interesting one.

“On the web, we have 10 times as many users as on apps,” Wellen says. “But the individuals that are on our apps are reading 13 times more page views and 17 times more video.”

Was it worth spending so much effort retooling the apps for an audience that is one tenth the size of the web user base?

Absolutely, Wellen suggests: “This audience that is one tenth of mobile web is actually larger, because of the engagement. So apps are an opportunity to engage very deeply with the audience.”

In one way, the stat is self-evident – websites are likely to have more drive-by page views by searches and social referrals, whilst app users have already taken the time to purposely invest in downloading a news brand for ongoing consumption.

So CNN is keen to better serve its most loyal mobile audience. Now the apps include a lot more video – not just news, but also shows like Anthony Bourdain’s.

And the organisation has found some success from letting CNNgo, its premium video offering, go free for promotional days, driving 20% to 25% conversion, Wellen says.

This video was produced in Barcelona at Mobile World Congress 2017.  The series is sponsored by Turner.  Please visit this page for additional segments from MWC.