CBSN, Live All-News Online Service Premieres, Abruptly

CBSN is the new online, always-on news service launched clumsily by CBS this morning. Combined with other CBS initiatives online lately, it seems that network is jumping in head-first.

A day before, CBS announced a carriage deal with Sony to carry network programming on some oft-mentioned, but not announced PlayStation over-the-top player. Earlier, it announced its CBS All Access stand-alone service.

The news site is utterly logical. After years in which CBS was rumored to be a suitor for, or a partner with, CNN so that it could use the full functions of its news division and lot of material it may otherwise not have room to air, CBSN is accomplishing that online, where the audience is moving anyway, rapidly.

CBSN will be available on and its mobile Web site and on connected TV devices, including Amazon Fire TV and various Roku players, as well as the newly launched CBS News apps for Windows 8/8.1 and Windows Phone 8/8.1.



If you have an Android phone, you’ll have to wait, though CBS says it will be there before the end of the year.

Look, it’s brand new, but in the first hours of CBSN, it seems to be going through the motions, particularly compared to CNNGo, that news network’s new online service, which really seems far ahead of whatever else is out there online.

CBS Interactive chief Jim Lanzone confirmed rumors of the news while at a conference in Ireland, not in some kind of showy venue. That means, to me, that, CBSN wants to feel its way forward.

As seen via Amazon, CBSN’s live feed doesn’t seem very live or news-of-the-moment on this inaugural day. It seems, instead, like some cross between a morning news show and the affiliate feed. I’m assuming that’s just for today, or the first little while. CBSN seems not so much half-baked as it does a product that has just been put into the oven.

“CBSN is an important example of how CBS is able to leverage the unique strengths, talent and competitive advantages of its businesses to create exciting, highly competitive new services that meet evolving audience preferences for content consumption,” stated Leslie Moonves, CBS president and CEO. That’s all true.

“There’s a tremendous opportunity on these platforms for a true round-the-clock newscast,” he said. True again.

Here’s the dreamier part: “We’re confident this service will appeal to both traditional news consumers and a whole new set of viewers.”

Don’t know. It’s not very compelling today.

CBSN will present a live feed from 9 a.m. to midnight EST, simulcasts of other news programs and the ability for viewers to pick and choose and  easily redistribute material via social media. When this works, it probably will work well.

Inaugural sponsors on CBSN are Microsoft and Amazon, which you have to think is part of the Amazon Fire kick-off arrangement. Nonetheless, for a network news operation that is almost renowned for its aged audience (and ads for the same), it was jarring to see a Kindle commercial over there. Where’s the Activia?

The live CBSN will be anchored by Elaine Quijano and Michelle Miller (who are working now) and Jeff Glor, along with relative newbies Don Dahler and Vladimir Duthiers, who joined just a three months ago from CNN.

For small historical moments, I’ll remember that in a live interview, the women quizzed White House spokesman Josh Earnest and Miller mentioned that Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W. Va.) characterized Tuesday’s massive defeat of Democratic candidates as “a real ass-whuppin."

Earnest, who had just congratulated CBS on the new online service,  was slightly taken aback and then replied with mock horror,  “I guess you can say that on the Internet.”

So that’s the way it is.
Next story loading loading..