TVN’S OTT NEWS SUMMIT 2020

For CBS, There’s Room For Plenty Of News Competition In Streaming

Christy Tanner, EVP and GM of CBS News Digital, says the OTT landscape has space for plenty of news organizations to connect with viewers. The lack of a common third-party currency is keeping competition’s ferocity away — for now.

Even though the streaming ecosystem is getting inundated with competition, Christy Tanner says there’s room for plenty of news organizations.

“I don’t think there’s such a thing as too much news,” said Tanner, EVP and GM of CBS News Digital, at TVNewsCheck’s OTT News Summit’s keynote interview on Sept 25. “More sources of news and more resources going into reporting and journalism is a good thing for everybody.”

In a conversation with TVNewsCheck Contributing Editor Janet Stilson, Tanner struck down the notion that “news is a winner-take-all space.

“This idea that there’s this horse race among news organizations to be No. 1 … or to crush the others, I wouldn’t apply that,” she said.

Instead, Tanner has observed industry-wide “support of solid journalism regardless of the outlet where it comes from,” which may not exactly be the headline that trades find themselves chasing.

She added that CBS News regularly books journalists from other newsgroups and doesn’t consider the streaming space hotly competitive among outlets largely because a common currency of third-party metrics has yet to emerge there.

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“We look at our numbers, which are growing triple digit year-over-year,” Tanner said, “and when we look at our distribution, how long we’ve been in the marketplace, how we’ve refined our playbook and what our results are, we assume that we’re leading the news space.”

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Stilson asked Tanner whether the recently announced rebrand of CBS All Access — which, beginning early next year, will be called Paramount Plus — might cause consumer confusion or hurt discoverability.

In Tanner’s mind, it’s quite the contrary. She called the move “carefully considered” and, “backed up by data and research,” said the company believes it “will lift all of our brands up” — including CBS’s local news brands, which have been rolling out their own OTT apps for over a year with an AVOD monetization model.

Tanner said she can’t yet see a subscription-based model in the cards for news. “At the core of our mission is delivering vital information to people, where and when they need it,” she said. “We really didn’t want a paywall in front of somebody who was receiving, for instance, a push alert about an impending hurricane.”

Tanner added: “It was a pretty easy decision for us to keep our news product free,” and when asked by Stilson if one day that might change, she said, “We’re always looking at different models and there may be an added-value premium model that we may look at, but I think for the stand-alone, core CBS News service… we’ll continue to keep that free.”

In the meantime, Tanner said revenue has been growing steadily and dramatically year-over-year, though she wouldn’t share specific figures.

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“The streaming piece is growing,” she said, “but for the moment we have a healthy mix in the marketplace of linear and digital placement of dollars.”

Christy Tanner, EVP and GM of CBS News Digital, says the OTT landscape has space for plenty of news organizations to connect with viewers. The lack of a common third-party currency is keeping competition’s ferocity away — for now. Click To TweetCBS is also continuing to expand its streaming footprint. It recently launched an app in more than 90 countries, on Roku, Amazon and other international platforms.

“We’re seeing more than 100% growth in international markets, and it particularly spikes when there’s a big event,” Tanner said, citing the Republican and Democratic National Conventions as examples, and predicting spikes when the presidential debates hit the airwaves. (The first is tomorrow.)

“We know that the world is watching the U.S. right now,” she continued. “When we make this free service available, and we let people know, they’re tuning in and watching. It’s really an incredible phenomenon to be able to reach global consumers with this trusted brand in news, and to see how this trusted brand resonates around the world.”

Find more OTT News Summit coverage here.


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