Jan 27, 2022 - Economy & Business

CBS News bets on local with new streaming strategy

Anchors Vladimir Duthiers and Anne-Marie Green Credit: CBS News

CBS News relaunched its 24/7 news streaming network Monday with a slate of new programming and new investments in local streaming networks that will feed into the service.

Why it matters: The rebranded, "CBS News Streaming Network" aims to differentiate itself from other major networks entering the streaming news fray by focusing on the marriage of live local and national coverage and by offering it for free.

  • CNN has invested heavily in hiring big names in news and lifestyle programming, like Alison Roman, for a subscription service called CNN+ that will launch this year.
  • NBC News Now, the free 24/7 streaming service from NBC News, focuses on national programming from top NBC News talent.

Details: The company will debut two new local streaming networks this year: CBS News Miami and CBS News Detroit.

  • With those launches, CBS will have 14 local news streaming networks that will feed into its service, including New York, Los Angeles, Boston, San Francisco Bay Area, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Denver, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Sacramento and Baltimore.
  • "The user experience is quite sophisticated in its ability to alert users to special coverage and big moments as they happen through a frictionless national to local experience," said Wendy McMahon, president and co-head of CBS News and CBS Television Stations. "We'll be able to seamlessly surface local stories to a national or even global audience."
  • CBS' local news streaming networks will give the new service an additional 15,000 hours of live local news per year by the end of 2022, per McMahon.

Be smart: CBS News was one of the first major news networks to launch a streaming network in 2014. The service, then called CBSN, continues to be free and ad-supported.

  • "The model works were profitable and we're growing," said Neeraj Khemlani, president and co-head of CBS News and CBS Television Stations. "News is a public service for us," he added.
  • McMahon noted that offering an ad-supported product helps CBS' advertising sales team sell ads that reach more people via both streaming and linear TV.

The big picture: As part of the revamped service, CBS also unveiled new streaming shows and documentary projects that will feature some of its biggest broadcast stars, like Norah O'Donnell and Gayle King.

  • "Our goal is to have our talent flow like water between TV and streaming," McMahon said.
  • Asked if CBS News plans to announce major hiring sprees as CNN and NBC News have done, she added, "Much of what we’re focused on is driving transformation with our current team and talent."

Bottom line: "It's hard to compete with national, local and 60 Minutes," Khemlani said.

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