CBS Evening News Looks For Promotion, Ratings--And, Oh Yeah, Some Breaking News

CBS says its new Katie Couric-anchored "CBS Evening News" won't be revolutionary, but more evolutionary, when it relaunches this fall. CBS is finally understanding the new role of TV news.

CBS already made revolutionary changes with the hiring of Couric in May as the first woman to solo anchor a broadcast network daily news show. Then Couric rested--a bit.

While Couric did take off the month of June for some heavy-duty sleep, after years of early morning alarms for "The Today Show," she did have some reporting work to do. To Couric's credit, she has been on a 'listening tour'--which some critics have already snickered at. Is Couric 'listening' for news?

No, Couric just wanted to talk with viewers, with no press around. This isn't a promotional thing, she says. If it was a serious promotional effort, CBS would be doing a tour of, say, 20 or 30 major markets, not just six cities that include Minneapolis, Dallas, Denver and San Diego.

But the real promotion is coming. In making its big splash on Sept. 5, CBS will offer the "CBS Evening News" on a variety of platforms--online, mobile, on-demand, and radio, to name a few. Now it needs to be everywhere, just like CNN's creation of a worldwide platform in the '80s and '90s. The news--and breaking news--will come later.

Dan Rather won't have this formula to work with. The ex-CBSer Rather is now heading to Mark Cuban's HDNet, with a weekly show called "Dan Rather Reports," a show which will focus on hard-edged, investigative reporting.

HDNet doesn't have the promotional resources of a CBS--but breaking news will, in theory, take care of this. In theory. Cuban hopes the old rules apply just one more time for the TV news business.

The new world of TV news doesn't work the same way. Fox News can make incredible rating gains not by necessarily breaking news, but by packaging it well, with well-known, opinionated newscasters.

CBS now says it just wants to have a good solid newscast with a well-known TV personality. At the TV Critics Tour in Pasadena, Calif., this week, the network didn't necessarily say it would hound every bad politician or thieving CEO.

The new world of TV News comes to the Tiffany Network.