Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Larry Kramer Builds CBSNews.com in a Broadbanded MarketWatch Image

With strong coverage from The New York Times and Reuters today, ex-CBS MarketWatch CEO Larry Kramer is sitting in the media spotlight as he begins his efforts to bypass cable television as a news outlet and to bring CBS content directly to the CBSNews.com Web site 24x7. It's a masterful move from a number of angles. With a much older average age than other broadcast TV news outlets and cable TV viewership leveling off, CBS has everything to gain by training a far younger demographic on the value of the CBS brand via Web-first delivery of text, audio and video. Most of the text comes courtesy of AP at this point and probably will indefinitely, given that upgrades to staff are mostly focused on more efficient content production rather than additional editorial staff. Video will be posted "Web first" in most instances, with broadcasts picking up a subset of this content. There's also a trimmed-down online version of the Evening News broadcast for those who prefer that format. Podcast feeds of audio are available in RSS along with RSS feeds of news and video posting headlines with links back to the mother site for full media.

In sum there's a lot going for the first major Web-first online video news outlet. But that's not to say that it's a perfect play. The original content is good and well-contextualized with complementary multimedia features but still thin when compared to other major online news portals such as CNN.com, which recently started making its own globally-sourced video available for free. Then again the original CNN cable news outlet looked rather thin compared to its broadcast news brethren when it hit TV sets some 25 years ago. As a showcase of how online content delivery techniques can be used to build a highly repurposable content set that taps into young and growing audiences effectively there's little doubt that Larry Kramer is right on target. When we start watching our personally filtered news downloaded onto our Blackberries on the train home, then we will know that this concept has finally arrived. But with its limited financing it may be an effort that's served better by a merger with a global news outlet that's willing to feed it original content more aggressively. Film at 11, as they used to say...
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