Figuring out the real from the fake news remains a challenge online, but some reputable brands seem to be lining up to change that. In the process, they hope to capture younger viewers attention.
According to Pew Research, two-thirds of U.S. adults get news from social media. Moreover, online is the primary source of news for half of 18 to 29-year-olds. The trouble is the quality of the news they are consuming can be dubious, at best. Online giants like Google and Facebook wrestle with how to deal with all the fake news people are consuming. However, perhaps the most pragmatic approach to solving the fake news problem is to marginalize it with plenty of authoritative news sources.
Here are three household names that are stepping up to the challenge of bringing quality to online news.
CBS brings free news to the world
CBS launched its 24-hour online news channel CBSN in late 2014. The channel set out to capture younger viewers and reused content from CBS traditional TV shows. Later it began to add CBSN original shows to the service like “Red and Blue” and shows exploring topics such as gender identity and immigration.
Though CBS has not released specific viewing figures for CBSN, it has hinted that the viewership is growing and that they are hitting their intended audience. The company says that streams increased 17% in 2017. 80% of the channel’s audience is between 18 and 49-years-old, and the average age of a viewer is 38. The service is also beginning to make a meaningful contribution to the company’s bottom line.
CBSN has also begun to make a meaningful contribution to the company’s bottom. In CBS’s Q4 2017 earnings call Joe Ianniello, CBS’s chief operating officer, said:
“CBSN, look, it’s contributing, I would put it in the tens of millions right now in terms of profitability.”
CBS is looking to expand the channels reach and has struck distribution deals with vMVDPs like FuboTV and new linear broadcasters like Pluto TV. It is so encouraged by the results it is launching two new channels, CBS Sports HQ and Entertainment Tonight, using the same model. The company also plans to take CBSN into international markets this year, according to Mr. Ianniello.[Update: NBC announced today – 3/15/18 – that it will launch a 24×7 online video news service .]
Netflix ‘never news” changed to a maybe?
Reed Hastings, Netflix’ CEO, has been crystal clear on his stance regarding news and sports:
“There’s lots of things we don’t do. We don’t do news; we don’t do sports. But what we do do, we try to do really well.”
OK, so we get that the company is not interested in breaking news coverage. However, it could be more interested in a magazine-style approach along the lines of 60 Minutes, according to Marketwatch. The site is reporting that a TV executive who has been collaborating with Netflix on documentaries says the site is about to launch such a magazine-style show.
This idea might not be too far-fetched. Netflix has been edging closer to current affairs and politics with its many documentaries and shows like David Letterman’s My Next Guest Needs No Introduction. A weekly show that takes a closer look at current issues could fit right in, without crossing Mr. Hasting’s line into hard news.
Facebook adding news to Watch
Much of the fake news that people are consuming comes via Facebook. So, it makes perfect sense for the social giant to work to bring in quality news providers. Axios is reporting that Facebook is preparing to add a news section as part of its Watch video product. The company is talking with as many as ten news suppliers to work out details such as the budget required and how the providers will make money.
Facebook is apparently looking for content that is 3 minutes or longer in length. It plans to run the service for at least a year and launch it sometime this summer.
Why it matters
With most Americans getting at least some of their news online, ensuring they can find quality news sources is becoming critical.
Major companies such as Facebook, CBS, and maybe even Netflix are looking to step up to the challenge with quality products of their own.