Jun 23, 2020 - Economy

Exclusive: CBSN launches global expansion


CBSN, the 24/7 digital streaming news service for CBS News, is expanding internationally to pull in more digital TV ad dollars, while also expanding its audience.

The big picture: The company has brokered over-the-top (OTT) TV carriage partnerships with connected TV providers in over 89 countries outside of the United States.

  • "It's always chicken and the egg with international," says Christy Tanner, Executive Vice President & General Manager of CBS News Digital.
  • "We need to build the audience first in order to have the volume to turn it into a robust AVOD (advertising video on-demand) advertising businesses."

Be smart: The international expansion comes on the heels of the CBS merger with Viacom, which closed late last year.

  • Tanner says that the international sales forces at both companies can combine their efforts to sell more ads for CBSN.
  • "We do think that will be one of the benefits of the merger. There are strong international ad sales teams at Viacom and we now have more relationships to tap into and capabilities in international sales."

Details: The company has brokered partnerships with several smart TV manufacturers and smart TV software platforms to make its CBSN app available across the world.

  • Those platforms include Amazon Fire TV, Android, Android TV, Apple TV, Chromecast and Chromecast built-in devices, iOS mobile apps, LG Smart TVs, and VIZIO SmartCast.
  • Because CBSN had previously launched behind a paywall in Canada and Australia, the company has already done the heavy legwork to secure global content rights for things like background music.
  • "When we did that we created a process for everything we do day-to-day to make sure everything cleared globally so we wouldn't have to worry about global rollout," says Tanner.
  • The actual product, a 24/7 streaming channel in English, will be the exact same in every country abroad as what's aired in the U.S.

Between the lines: CBSN' has been planning this expansion prior to the pandemic and the protests, but Tanner says that traffic has skyrocketed in recent months, as the world grapples with those two events.

The company is expanding its OTT app to:

  • 34 EU countries (plus UK), including France, Germany and Sweden
  • 55 non-EU countries, including China, Brazil, Peru, and South Korea

By the numbers: CBSN's audience growth internationally year-over-year:

  • Canada (+129%), UK (+320%), Australia (+1,389%), India (+268%), Mexico (+104%), Philippines (+237%), Japan (+92%).

What's next: The product has been rolling out around the world in beta for a few weeks, but the official launch on most of these new platforms will be this week.

Go deeper