CBSN Betting On Expanded Branded Content In 2018

In a year following a presidential election, executives at many news organizations expected viewership to decline.

That expectation, of course, turned out to be dead wrong. The appetite for news is stronger than ever in the first year of the Trump Administration. CBSN, the CBS News live streaming service, had more than 240 million live streams in 2016, which rose by 17% in 2017 -- a clear sign that consumers, avid for news, are also embracing streaming alternatives to traditional TV offerings.

Now, CBSN plans to leverage that growth as it expands its programming and advertising reach in 2018. On the advertising front, CBSN is leaning into social integrations and branded content.

A source at CBSN told Digital News Daily that the company is planning to distribute its branded content on OTT platforms “in novel ways” by using new ad tech products.

According to CBS, 50% of CBSN viewing happens on OTT devices, with 20% on mobile and 30% on desktop devices.

CBSN custom-produces that content for advertisers in-house, with clients including Subaru and Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA). CBSN actually won a native advertising award for its CTCA campaign, which included sponsored segments about cancer survivors, two branded pieces about CTCA staff and an infographic.

CBSN is also hoping to capture more eyeballs by focusing on content with captions on social platforms, designed to hook viewers--many of whom don't listen with sound--in the first two to three seconds. That approach applies to CBSN’s editorial, sponsored and branded content on social platforms.

CBSN will expand its programming slate, which currently includes “CBSN Originals,” “CBSN On Assignment” and the political talk show “Red & Blue.”

According to Variety, CBSN may focus its new programming more on franchises that appear as segments rather than 15 or 30 minute shows. CBSN will also have more integration with products like CBS All Access, or the upcoming sports streaming network CBS Sports HQ.

CBSN launched in 2014 as a response to the rise of streaming video. CBS News already spent millions on gathering and reporting news, but news appeared only on morning and evening shows. CBSN was a way to leverage newsgathering all day long. 

This head start has given CBSN a foothold on OTT devices and in streaming bundles. And as more people cut and trim the cord, many will be turning to services like CBSN for their live news fix.

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