After pruning CBS’s online news efforts two years ago, the company is now trying to build it back up as CNET’s tech and edit/management integration permeates across the company, and as part of that, it has relaunched CBSNews.com tonight.
The new site takes cues from CBS (NYSE: CBS) Evening News’ own design overhaul which rolled out a month ago on TV, and from the previous predominantly white background, has moved to a blended white and grey, with a premium on visuals. It starts with the main rotating visual carousel of stories, which as a feature is now becoming standard on a lot of general news sites. The site has also added lot more original content from CBSNews reports and columnists and content partners (Politico, CBS MoneyWatch, *Washington Post*and WebMD), more robust destinations for each of its news programs, and access to live coverage of breaking news and special events, it says.
It has made Washington Unplugged, a weekly online video series hosted by Bob Schieffer, into a daily segment. Also being added late summer, a new show by comedian Mo Rocca, called “The Tomorrow Show”, as a “fun, interactive discussion about what the future has in store, and the possibilities on the horizon,” as the company describes it. More interestingly, it has added a new site/blog Crimesider as an adjunct to its 48 Hours show. Written by executive producer Susan Zirinsky, the new site is positioned as the one-stop destination for true-crime news. Sean McManus, president of CBS News & Sports described this new site first at our EconAffinity conference last month in NYC. (Video here.)
The site is also launching a new Blackberry app (not live yet), and will launch an iPhone app this summer.
Despite all this, CBSNews.com has a big challenge ahead, as it is the smallest in terms of traffic, compared to other network news sites like CNN.com, MSNBC.con and FoxNews.com. While the company likes to tout its month-over-month unique users growth citing Nielsen NetRatings numbers in its press releases, numbers from Compete, Quantcast and Google Trends show otherwise. CBS has always lacked the big portal hose like CNN and MSNBC had in AOL (NYSE: TWX) and MSN respectively over the years, but the CNET acquisition was supposed to solve some part of that.
So far it hasn’t happened except for the spikes last year because of elections. CBS Interactive’s slate of sites– including the collective of CNET, CBS.com, CBSSports.com, GameSpot, TV.com, Last.fm and others — have now broken into the top 10 global properties online, according to NetRatings. Shouldn’t it start seeing some more traffic growth on the online side? Any more ideas on how CBSNews.com could go up the ranks of news site, besides organic growth?
A short video about the new redesign, from Katie Couric, embedded below: