Exclusive: CBS nears launch of 24-hour Sacramento-based news channel

A still frame from a pre-launch commercial for the upcoming CBSN Sacramento. (Photo: ViacomCBS/The Desk)

After multiple missed launch windows, CBS is finally preparing to unveil a 24-hour digital news channel based in Sacramento that will cover Northern California.

The channel will be an offshoot of the national digital news network CBSN and similar in style to several local variants of CBSN that have launched in television markets where CBS owns and operates the local station.

The channel, CBSN Sacramento, will operate out of the West Sacramento studios of KOVR-TV (Channel 13) and KMAX-TV (Channel 31). The stream’s schedule will contain a mixture of existing KOVR and KMAX programs like CBS13 News and Good Day Sacramento mixed in with digital-only newscasts produced by both stations’ anchors, reporters, producers and other employees.

Programming from the national CBSN stream will be carried on CBSN Sacramento during off-peak hours, typically in the early morning and on the weekends, according to people familiar with the plans.

CBSN Sacramento will be available to stream for free via KOVR and KMAX’s websites as well as on the CBS News app for smartphones, tablets and smart TVs. The stream will also be available as a local variant of CBSN on ViacomCBS-owned Pluto TV and is expected to be made available on premium streaming service CBS All Access in the coming months.

CBSN Sacramento was expected to launch in mid-March but was delayed more than once due to shifting business priorities at parent company ViacomCBS brought on by the COVID-19 health crisis. The launch of CBSN Sacramento took a backseat after ViacomCBS was forced to close its broadcast hub in New York City and reallocate resources to its owned stations and affiliates outside the New York area.

That shift in resources saw CBS tap local anchors and reporters to fill in for on-air talent who were displaced by the closure of CBS Broadcast Center. In May, KOVR news anchors Elizabeth King and Tony Lopez were selected to host two weekend editions of the CBS Evening News.

CBSN Sacramento is slated to launch online in the first half of July.

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