Hoping to reverse the declining TV audience and grab younger-skewing Net-savvy viewers, CBS will offer the new show free and ad-supported on CBSNews.com beginning Sept. 5, when Couric debuts.
To get "The CBS Evening News," viewers will need to register online. In addition, the broadcast may be viewed as an on-demand program any time after the live simulcast, or as individual stories from "The CBS Evening News."
"This is an additive audience to the network," says Larry Kramer, president of CBS Digital. "The network broadcast isn't going to be hurt by this." Kramer says that the average age of CBSNews.com is some 15 years younger than CBS News' network audience.
Rival NBC previously did a deal for "The NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams" on the Internet. But the show isn't available in real-time--only after 10 p.m.
Unlike most programs that are streamed or downloadable off the Internet and carry a 10-second pre-roll ad spot, followed by three typically short 10-second or 15-second spots, "The CBS Evening News" will carry its full complement of six to seven minutes of ad time for its half-hour show.
CBS expects many of its broadcast advertisers to make the transition to the Internet space--but not everyone.
Kramer figures that one-third of the advertising for the show's Internet version will come from existing TV advertisers; another third from new advertisers; and the final third from CBS's local TV stations for promotion. Network advertisers will need to make an additional media-buying Internet purchase. Kramer believes the deal will help bring in Internet-only advertisers that can't afford pricey network ad time.
"News and sports are two areas where viewers need to see programming in real time," says Kramer. "It's valuable." Although there is a bigger commercial load for the Internet version of "The CBS Evening News" versus typical Internet programming, Kramer says Web users accept it. "We are giving them a context in real time. The sooner you can get it out, the better."
This announcement follows on the heels of CBS putting prime-time shows on its new innertube site. Programs such as "CSI" will be seen on Innertube starting the day after their network run.
These decisions are the result of CBS' affiliate deal in June. Executives say that deal is similar to the one Fox made with its affiliates, in which stations receive 12.5 percent of advertising or other revenues in their respective markets if a show is run after its network airing. They earn 25 percent if a show is run before a network telecast. CBS won't disclose the terms, but said "The CBS Evening News" deal was anticipated during affiliate negotiations.
CBS Digital previously did a major simulcast Internet/broadcast network programming deal for the NCAA basketball tournament, which proved a raging success, say company officials. That effort prompted the CBSNews.com deal.
Other Web programs, as a part of this deal, include: "Couric & Company," which is a daily blog exploring news developments, and "Eye to Eye," a daily, Web-exclusive feature of extended interviews hosted by Couric or a CBS News correspondent. For "CBS News First Look with Katie Couric," Couric will offer a Web-exclusive rundown on-camera from the newsroom. "Katie Couric's Notebook" is a one-minute look at a top story available as an audio and video podcast and on iTunes.