CBS Takes Aim At Newspapers With Local Websites

It makes sense that CBS CEO Leslie Moonves wants to make his company's single-market websites into the new local newspapers. He's got the wide reach of TV to promote the just-rolled-out sites.

Forget about going to the end of the driveway in the morning or even bothering to spread out the broadsheet on the commuter rail. Just fire up -- on the laptop or iPad -- a CBS site covering the local turf, with content drawn from its TV and radio stations. 

"We think we can replace the Yellow Pages, replace the newspaper ... when you get up in the morning, you should be able to turn on that local CBS website and get everything you would need -- everything that would be provided by your newspaper," he told investors Monday.

Newspaper reading is declining, so there's opportunity to encroach in the print area. The new battleground is the web, where newspaper sites still dominate locally.

But ours is increasingly a video society --- with people less willing to read lengthy articles. They're hungry for info chunks.  And CBS local portals loaded with enticing clips and an easy ability to view breaking news live have a lot of runway.



Even as Tribune Co. makes noise about integrating newspaper and station sites in markets where it has both properties, it's striking that in Los Anglels. at least the concept hardly seems to have made it to the starting gate. and don't even appear to be corporate cousins, let alone brothers. 

Yet, even as Moonves offers a plausible plan, local TV station sites have mostly been unable to topple the newspaper counterparts, which began focusing on the web many years earlier. Maybe that's because newspapers had some vision of a wired future, or perhaps because it wasn't too hard for the papers to post copy and photos.

So the dynamic in the broader Raleigh, NC market is remarkable. Capitol Broadcasting Co.'s site for CBS affiliate WRAL-TV has greater web traffic than the local News & Observer, which emphasized the web at a considerable level before many other papers.

In line with the Moonves playbook, has capitalized on the station's leading position in the market.

"All of our newscasts are No. 1," station general manager Steven Hammel told NetNewsCheck. "For instance we have a 21.3 share for our 6 p.m. newscast."

On Thursday, was streaming a murder trial live. And a site visitor's attention was immediately drawn to the one-click opportunity to get inside the court room. On the News & Observer site, there was a story about the case that took some scrolling to find. Pretty telling?

3 comments about "CBS Takes Aim At Newspapers With Local Websites".
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  1. Bruce May from Bizperity, March 10, 2011 at 5:08 p.m.

    Wow! Blended media solutions that leverage the real capabilities of the technology. It's been there just waiting fo the right player to drive it. Looks like CBS could be the big winner on this one.

  2. Joe Jacobs, March 11, 2011 at 1:39 p.m.

    CBS may be positioned to take advantage of the supposed demise of newspapers, but he neglects to consider the hiring of a LOT more staff that will be required. As a veteran of over 10 years in broadcast network TV, I can tell you that a reporter that's geared for a 3-4 minute segment in the local news broadcast isn't going to have acquired the detail necessary to provide good newspaperlike coverage.

    Unless it's in documentary form, TV doesn't provide the news depth that good newspaper reporting does.

    So I wouldn't schedule the Brinks truck to show up at your back door just yet, Mr. Moonves. Many of your local affiliates are still trying to figure our how they're going to pay for their digital transmitter.

  3. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, April 8, 2011 at 9:21 p.m.

    When a person can speak and be understood as fast as one can read words, then they are onto something really big.

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