Will CBS find room online for a news channel? Yep, but there's competition

By Jim O'Neill on May 16 2014 at 9:00 AM

Studies have shown viewers are migrating online to find news, and a number of large – and small – news organizations have jumped into the fray to try and stake an early claim to a piece of the market. Add CBS to that crowd.

The network’s chief, Les Moonves, told Bloomberg CBS is planning on launching a new, 24-hour online channel that, it hopes, will appeal to a younger demographic that the “Eye Network” has sometimes struggled to draw.

CBS is looking to the Internet because, Moonves said, there “are already too many players for us to start a brand new cable channel.”

The online news channel would live stream content, news CBS already gathers but can’t fit into its current news outlets.

“There's so much information we get every day that doesn't fit into the 22-minute newscast or CBS This Morning,” he said. “So we thought, with all the content going digital right now, wouldn’t it be a good idea to do a 24-hour digital channel taking all the resources that CBS News has... all over the world?

“We can do that. We can go direct digital. It’s an exciting alternative to cable news,” Moonves added.

The project is in “the early stages” under the guidance of CBS News President David Rhodes. While CBSNews.com currently has clips and text news stories, Moonves says he envisions the new site as being, potentially, another authenticated online channel for pay-TV subscribers.

While cable may be crowded, the online space may be just as congested.

The audience, however, is larger and, perhaps, more news hungry.

Online video news consumption continues to grow in the United States, according to Pew Research Center’s Journalism Project, which said as many adults now get their news from watching online video as from cable news stations or Facebook.

The 11th Edition of the State of the News Media 2014 estimates 36% of all U.S. adults watch online video, and 36% of those adults watch video news.

Pew said improved technology has made it easier for news operations to get their product online and notes that citizen journalism has played an increasing role. About one-in-10 online news consumers have submitted their own content to news organizations or blogs.

Pew calls out the efforts of Vice Media – which launched a digital news channel this year -- and NBC – which acquired Stringwire in 2013 -- in expanding their digital news outlets as examples of where the space might be heading.

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