How targeting the Gen Z audience helped Czech News Center kickstart its TikTok presence

Aiming to reach younger audiences, the Czech publisher conducted an experiment that used TikTok as a primary channel to distribute its sports journalism targeted at young audiences. Having exceeded their initial goal on the social network, the experiment is now inspiring other newsrooms within the company to set up their own TikTok channels.

Publisher bio: Established in 1992, Czech News Center is one of the biggest media houses in the Czech Republic. Its portfolio covers four daily print newspapers (including the country’s biggest tabloid, Blesk), 42 print magazines, and over 40 websites.

In a country of 10.7 million people, CNC’s titles reach 6.7 million people online and 5.2 million in print every month. The company has eight newsrooms and an overall staff of 1,000, about half of whom work on content creation.

Challenge: Using sports content to engage a new, younger audience

When Czech News Center (CNC) joined Table Stakes Europe, the team knew from the start that an important objective for them was reaching younger audiences. As is the case with many news publishers, CNC’s usual audiences are getting older, and a lack of young (ideally paying) readers will be a challenge to the company’s long-term business future.

Moreover, although CNC publishes a broad range of different kinds of media products, the company’s TSE team identified a critical gap in its media portfolio: the publisher only had one small outlet, a recently launched FOMO, that aimed to address the interests and needs of young people.

Using its sports newsroom as a test case and seeking to identify specific sports that interest young people, CNC set out to create new content and distribution channels that had a better chance of engaging the Gen Z generation, that is, under 25-year olds.

It was also clear that increasing digital skills within CNC would be an important part of the publisher’s TSE journey: legacy of print was still strong in the company, with most CNC’s journalists still having print related jobs, and generally there was a clear division between print and digital staff.

The youth publication FOMO was able to support this goal: although only a small part of the wider company, FOMO had a strong social media presence and could share its expertise on managing social channels.

Decisions: Going where the young are – TikTok

To align its sports newsroom better with the interests of the Gen Z audience, CNC decided to focus on specific sports that it identified as being of particular interest to young people. Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) was an easy choice, as the sport is rapidly becoming more popular among young people in the country. Other focus sports for young people included Formula 1 and eSports.

As part of this challenge, the company hired a journalist who is a member of the Gen Z generation himself and can thus write in a voice that is authentic to the target audience. His job consisted largely of covering UFC, the largest MMA organisation in the world.

The company also wanted to experiment on how it could better reach out and engage young people on their own platforms. In this case, a TikTok channel was created for, and the company also hired a video manager focusing specifically on TikTok.

To spread the word about TikTok also more broadly, the TSE team organised a company-wide TikTok training: more than 60 people participated in a 2-hour workshop about best practices on the social media channel.

“The workshop exceeded our expectations,” said Kateřina Kadlecová, editor of paid content at CNC. “We are working on culture change in the organisation, and we saw over 60-year-old journalists come to the training and be ready to launch a new TikTok channel.”

Indeed, four other newsrooms were inspired to create their own TikTok channels following the training.

Outcome: TikTok audiences surpassing expectations

The results of these experiments were somewhat indefinite. The sports content aimed at Gen Z was indeed more successful in engaging the target audience than the rest of the publication’s content on average.

However, after a few months of experimentation the total scale was low, which led to this part of the experiment being put on hold.

But the outcomes with TikTok were promising and produced some essential learnings. For example, the team realised that they couldn’t handle TikTok on their own as they didn’t have enough knowledge on how engagement on social platforms works. As a result, they hired three social media editors, one of whom is dedicated to TikTok.

The results speak for themselves: starting from 0, the team aimed to acquire 2,000 followers for’s new TikTok channel; by the end of the TSE round, they had reached 4,000 followers.

“I think our whole approach with TikTok is changing now, and we’re really figuring it out now. TikTok is now a huge part of our discussions when we’re making new strategies,” said Kadlecová.

The changing mindset has influenced decisions across the company: for instance, CNC created a TikTok channel for Blesk, the biggest tabloid in the Czech Republic, and the new channel has had “huge success,” according to Kadlecová. Additional CNC newsrooms, such as Reflex, a culture magazine, are also planning to join TikTok.


Achievements during TSE:

Beyond their successful entry on TikTok and expanding the use of the social network within the company, Czech News Center laid the groundwork to start redirecting this new public to their own platform and build a monetisation funnel that will be customised for this particular audience. It also completely reorganised the newsroom focusing on Women content: the new structure maximises the value of high-quality content by allowing it to be published across all female targeted platforms.

Key learning from TSE:

“Even after our successful entry to TikTok and first successes in changing the thinking of print-oriented colleagues, we realised that our company has to meet even bigger challenges during its digital transformation. Thanks to Table Stakes Europe, we are now forming mini-publishing teams and putting the main focus onto our users. Our new strategy is based on the funnel and emphasises user-driven content. Next year we aim to update products, set up the registration wall, not only paywall, and serve the needs of specific audiences in each part of the funnel.”

– Kateřina Kadlecová