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CNN’s streaming service opens to cord cutters, adds original programming

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CNN’s online streaming platform, CNNgo, is shifting its strategy to target those without a pay TV subscription, according to a report from Variety. The Turner-owned news network is introducing an expanded lineup of original programming that won’t require users authenticate using their TV provider’s credentials, beginning with a series called “Mostly Human.” The new show aims to examine people’s increasing complicated relationship with technology.

Variety said the series is like “Black Mirror” in real life, and that seems like a fairly accurate description.

Fans of the Twilight Zone-esque “Black Mirror” will see some of the same themes being explored, including A.I., bots, hacks, algorithms, VR, and more.

For example, one episode called “Dead IRL” delves into the story of the woman who created a digital version of her best friend after he died, in order to still chat and joke with him. This is nearly the same as the plot found in the “Black Mirror” episode “Be Right Back,” where a woman uses artificial intelligence to continue communications with her boyfriend, after he’s killed in a car accident.

Other episodes in CNN’s new show will explore the life and death of ISIS hacker Junaid Hussain; a sexual assault that took place in the virtual world; and the infamous Ashley Madison hack along its impact on the company and people’s lives.

Silicon Valley itself is the focus of a couple of other episodes, including the depression startup founders sometimes face, and the soul-searching taking place post-election in the Valley.

CNN’s Senior Technology Correspondent Laurie Segall is hosting the new series, having already worked on several short-form programs of a similar nature, including  “Sex, Drugs & Silicon Valley,” “Revenge Porn,” and “Secret Lives of Superhero Hackers.”

In total, there are six episodes of “Mostly Human” available starting March 12, 2017.

CNN has not announced the full lineup planned for CNNgo, but it will detail other programs joining the service starting next month.

According to Andrew Morse, Executive VP of editorial for CNN U.S. and GM of CNN Digital Worldwide, CNNgo, when it launched in 2014, was a TV Everywhere companion that included on-demand, short-form news clips. “Now we want to harness this powerful digital platform for an audience that’s hungry for exclusive content,” he says.

The network’s aim for its originals is to give it a more competitive position in today’s streaming landscape, where many media consumers spend time watching Netflix, Hulu, YouTube and get their news from social networks, like Facebook.

CNNgo has been growing its video offerings, with 69.7 million hours of authenticated video content streamed in 2016, up 205% over 2015. The service has 1.3 million monthly active users, Variety’s report said.

CNNgo’s new content will be available via the web, iOS and Android mobile apps, as well as connected TV platforms like Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV and Android TV.