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Documentaries to air regularly on streaming news channel CBSN

The logo of CBSN (Photo: Handout)

CBSN has rolled out a new plan to stream original documentaries at the same time each week across its digital platforms, according to a report.

The new strategy harkens back to a traditional television broadcast model, one that CBS executives say continues to work even in the era of streaming and on-demand television.

CBSN Originals, a documentary series sponsored by pharmaceutical company Pfizer, launched in 2016. Nearly four dozen half-hour documentaries have been published online, with a handful of those streaming at different times on CBSN over the last three years.

In October, CBS executives created a new schedule for the documentary series: New 30-minute episodes would publish online on Thursdays, then stream on CBSN at the same time each Sunday.

The strategy, so far, is working: CBSN has seen a 20 percent increase in viewership since the company released its first two episodes under the retooled model.

“We decided to release them more or less on a weekly cadence in groups of six so that, if you liked the first one in the series or the second one in the series, you’d know that another one is coming soon,” Christy Tanner, the Executive Vice President and General Manager of CBS Digital, said in a statement provided to the website Digiday.

Documentaries are a small element in CBSN’s overall streaming strategy — one that places breaking news and developing stories above all else.

“Our original series is a really super important part of our overall programming, but our bread and butter is livestreaming and being able to turn on a dime for breaking news,” Tanner said.

Each day, more than one million people stream CBSN via CBS apps and on partner websites, including Hulu and Pluto TV. The digital-only network has proved so popular that CBS has started rolling out local variants of the service in broadcast markets where it owns the local CBS station, including Los Angeles and New York City.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).