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CBSN is a streaming video news channel operated by the CBS News and CBS Interactive divisions of CBS Corporation, which launched on November 6, 2014. CBSN is designed primarily as an online-oriented service; it is distributed solely through the cbsnews.com website, mobile apps, and via apps for digital media player devices such as Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, and Roku, rather than traditional platforms such as television, broadcast or otherwise. Since September 21, 2015, some CBSN segments are repurposed on the CBS television network as part of CBS Overnight News.
The ad-supported service primarily features content from CBS News along with other CBS-owned properties, hosted during much of the day by various CBS News personalities, along with coverage of breaking news and live events. CBSN also serves as a timeshift channel, carrying some CBS News programs on a short delay. CBSN is designed primarily to appeal to a younger audience with a format allowing viewers to watch it as a live, linear stream, or to watch program segments on-demand.
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Rumors that CBS News was preparing a 24-hour online news service were first reported by BuzzFeed in October 2013, and later confirmed by a CBS spokesperson who stated that the company was seeking “partners” for the service. Initial reports suggested that the service would consist of a linear, multi-platform streaming channel, featuring video content from other CBS News productions, along with other online-exclusive content; The New York Times likened the rumored format to an all-news radio station, combining pre-recorded video content with regular, live news updates. On May 15, 2014, CBS Corporation CEO Leslie Moonves confirmed in an interview with Bloomberg Television that the company was working on the service. Describing it as an “exciting alternative to cable news”, he went on to say that “there is so much information that we get every day that doesn’t fit into a 22-minute newscast at 6:30 or CBS This Morning.”
In October 2014, Capital New York reported that CBS had recently filed for trademarks on the name CBSN as a potential name for the service. It also reported that the content would take place in an informal newsroom setting, and that its interface would consist of a video player with a playlist on a sidebar, and feature social network integration. On November 5, 2014, during a Re/code conference in Dublin, CBS Interactive President Jim Lanzone announced that the service would officially launch on November 6, 2014.CBS News President David Rhodes explained that CBSN was not designed to compete directly with traditional pay-television news outlets, but to “create something that is native for connected devices”, such as smartphones, tablets, and digital media players.
There was also an emphasis placed on targeting younger viewers, particularly those who are in places with little or no access to television, or those who do not subscribe to pay television at all.As opposed to CNNGo, a similarly-formatted TV Everywhere service introduced by CNN prior to the launch of CBSN, CBSN is available at no charge and does not require users to authenticate with a subscription to a pay television provider. Rhodes argued that requiring authentication would hamper the service’s viewership. CBSN uses commercial breaks similar to a conventional television channel; Amazon.com and Microsoft were among the service’s initial advertisers.
The success of CBSN led CBS to launch CBS Sports HQ, a similar service devoted to sports news, in February 2018; CBSN New York, a service focused on New York City area news, in December 2018; and CBSN Los Angeles, focused on the Los Angeles area, in June 2019. CBS plans to launch local CBSN feeds for its other television stations starting in 2019.