CBS Launches 24-Hour Streaming News Service

/ Nov 6, 2014


Instead of building a cable news network, CBS has opted to go digital with CBSN, a new 24-hour streaming service for its venerated CBS News brand.

CBSN will look to compete with the likes of Fox News and CNN by providing round-the-clock breaking news coverage and features, but instead of restricting access to paying cable subscribers, the service will be available for free to almost anyone with a smartphone, tablet, computer, or connected TV.

Online, CBSN is available on Elsewhere, the service is currently accessible via the CBS News app for Windows Phone, Amazon Fire TV, and Roku devices. Support for other platforms, including Android smartphones and tablets, will be added by the end of the year.

News coverage on the service will be live and anchored by a two-member team for 15 hours (from 9am to midnight ET) every weekday. During that period, the service will employ a rolling 60-minute format, constantly updated with the latest news and information from CBS correspondents as well as CBS-owned sources like CBS News, affiliate stations,, and “Entertainment Tonight.” The network will also simulcast CBS News special reports for breaking news whenever applicable.

And with CBSN being digital, it will also be interactive. For instance, viewers will have the option to watch any video segment that’s already aired. When an on-demand clip is selected, the live stream will continue to run in a smaller box so users can switch back in case of a breaking news development. Viewers will also be able to share clips to their social media accounts.

Ad-supported and free across platforms, CBSN is launching with Microsoft and Amazon as launch sponsors.

Though it’s been in development for a year, CBSN is the latest example that CBS is embracing digital video, but on its own terms.

There’s a lot of potential (and profit) in owning a cable news channel. It’s also quite a hassle. By going direct to consumers via digital, CBS is able to cut out some of the time, money, and effort required in building a successful cable news channel. And in doing so, the company now has the opportunity to make CBS News the news outlet of choice for those who regularly access news content online and on the go.

It’s the same with CBS All-Access; the network that once refused to release some control over its programming to Hulu now has its own SVOD service. Showtime, which is owned by CBS, will soon have one, too.

And then there are the comments made by CBS CEO Les Moonves during the company’s quarterly earnings call yesterday. Moonves confirmed that CBS has agreed to provide programming for Sony’s upcoming internet-TV service. Why? Because, as a newcomer, Sony will pay “higher subscription fees than what we’ve ever been paid before,” said Moonves.

For a while, CBS was slow to integrate digital into its core businesses, because the economics didn’t support such a move. Now they’re beginning to. And CBS wants to lead the pack as the industry increasingly becomes multi-platform.

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