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CBS News is relaunching free streaming channel

CBS News is overhauling its streaming news channel with a new name and a slate of programs presented by its big-name anchors that taps into the division’s legacy.

The ViacomCBS unit is announcing today that the free ad-supported channel, known as CBSN since its launch in 2014, will become CBS News Streaming. It will integrate the division’s broadcast franchises into the channel — a shift in strategy, as it previously relied heavily on a cadre of lesser-known anchors.

Neeraj Khemlani, president and co-head of CBS News and Stations, told The Times in an interview that the new moniker will signal to streaming viewers that they will see the same level of storytelling and reporting as on the network’s franchises such as “CBS Sunday Morning” and “60 Minutes.”

Khemlani believes the move — along with the expansion of streaming news channels at the CBS-owned local stations — will tear down the barrier that has divided the broadcast and digital sides of the operation.

“You can’t underestimate the cultural impact of everybody internally now saying they are part of one CBS News,” Khemlani said. “It also reduces confusion about the brand externally. It’s about unlocking the power of CBS News for more audiences globally.”

The service is adding new original programs that will feature “CBS Evening News” anchor Norah O’Donnell and “CBS Mornings” co-host Gayle King.

O’Donnell will host “Person to Person,” a revival of the interview program associated with legendary CBS journalist Edward R. Murrow. King will front “CBS Reports,” a long-form news program that takes its name from the documentaries the network was known for in its heyday of the 1960s and ’70s.

The changes are being unveiled as news divisions across the media landscape race to ramp up their streaming efforts as more viewers shift away from traditional TV watching.

WarnerMedia’s CNN has been on a hiring spree ahead of its launch of CNN+, which will make content produced by the channel available to consumers without a cable subscription. The company poached Fox News veteran Chris Wallace and former NPR anchor Audie Cornish for the subscription service set to launch this year.

NBC News also has added several of its established names — including Tom Llamas and Hallie Jackson — to its free streaming channel, NBC News Now. Fox News has taken a different approach with Fox Nation, putting on documentaries and lifestyle programming with its on-air talent and day-after repeats of its prime-time shows.

All have the same goal: finding a way to capture viewers who have chosen to forgo cable and broadcast TV for streaming platforms. The new channels eventually could become the primary way the news divisions reach their audiences.

CBS News Streaming will expand on the franchises established on CBS News’ evening newscast and successful weekend programs. “Here Comes the Sun,” with “CBS Sunday Morning” correspondents Lee Cowan and Tracy Smith, will present new and vintage segments from the program, which has the largest audience of any morning show on television.

The streaming service also will expand “The Dish,” a popular food segment on “CBS Saturday Morning,” into a weekly half-hour series co-hosted by Michelle Miller, Jeff Glor and Dana Jacobson.

Miller also will host “Eye on America,” based on a long-running evening news segment that takes an in-depth look at stories around the country. Steve Hartman, whose emotional “On the Road” segments are a staple of “CBS Evening News,” also will get a weekly half-hour.

“CBS Mornings” co-host Tony Dokoupil will host “The Uplift,” based on a segment on the program that highlights uplifting stories about people overcoming obstacles in their lives.

CBS News Streaming will have its own live newscast at 7 p.m. Eastern, followed by an airing of one of its prime-time shows, “60 Minutes” and “48 Hours,” or an episode of one of the new original series. The channel also will have a nightly political show featuring CBS News’ Washington correspondents, including the newly hired Robert Costa, who recently joined the network from the Washington Post.

The programs will be available to users on demand after they appear on a livestream that plays them on a schedule. They also will be available on CBSNews.com and Paramount+, the subscription streaming service operated by ViacomCBS.

Khemlani would not comment on the contract status of King and O’Donnell, whose deals are up this year. Their futures have been the subject of TV news industry speculation. Including them in an announcement for two high-profile shows suggests they likely will remain at the network.

“I will tell you that Gayle and Norah and Tony Dokoupil and anchors and reporters across the board are showing enormous leadership in terms of contribution to the service, and they are the pace cars for the entire division,” Khemlani said. “We’re thrilled we can tap into people of that caliber and not have separate teams across the board.”

CBS also is adding two more local streaming news channels that will broadcast from its stations in Miami and Detroit, bringing the total to 13. The network offers a service in Los Angeles from its outlets KCBS and KCAL.

The services have expanded since CBS President and Chief Executive George Cheeks decided to merge the news division with the stations under Khemlani and Wendy McMahon, who shares the president and co-head title. Los Angeles Times

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