CBS brings a round-the-clock streaming news network to cord cutters


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CBS is looking to cover one of the biggest blind spots for cord cutters with a free, 24-7 streaming news network.

Dubbed CBSN, the streaming channel offers a continuous feed of news stories around the clock. On weekdays, 15 of those hours will be live, anchored coverage. Unlike CBS’s new $5.99 All Access service for TV shows, the news service is completely ad-supported, with commercials occasionally working their way into the feed.

CBSN is available now through any web browser and in apps for Roku players, Roku TV sets and Amazon’s Fire TV. It’s also part of a new CBS News app for Windows and Windows Phone, and is coming to Android and “other leading platforms” (the iPhone, presumably) by year-end.

Why this matters: Whether you love or hate 24-7 news networks, the reality is that many people are hooked on them. A recent study by ComScore found that 58 percent of pay TV subscribers said that news was important to their viewing habits—more than any other category. CBS is trying to tap into that market without going all in on a full-blown cable network, and as a result may appeal to people who are already living without a pay TV subscription.

How it works

When you launch the website or fire up the app, you immediately jump into the live broadcast, with a sidebar of previous stories and “up next” topics on the left. You can skip back to a report that you missed, and a little thumbnail preview of the live broadcast continues in the lower-left corner. There’s also a full screen option that gets the sidebar out the way.

CBS says the live, anchored coverage kicks off every weekday at 9 a.m. Eastern, and runs until midnight. Snippets get pulled in from all parts of the CBS empire, including affiliate stations, CNet, and Entertainment Tonight. The anchors—a mix of veterans and new correspondents—help guide things along and occasionally talk with reporters.

It’s certainly a far cry from the flashy, opinion-driven material of the big cable networks, but at first glance it looks like helpful way to catch up on the news without having to select every individual clip. And in perhaps the biggest nod to cord cutters of all, one of the segments was a quick guide to new movies and show coming to Netflix.

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