48 Hours to spend time in syndication this fall (updated)

Repackaged episodes of CBS Newsmagazine sold to local TV stations

[Editor’s Note: This story was updated on August 28.]

Following in the footsteps of NBC’s Dateline, CBS’ Saturday mainstay 48 Hours is heading the syndication route starting September 11, with nearly 600 repackaged episodes. 

The newly repackaged episodes are hosted by Jericka Duncan and Jonathan Viglotti and features updates and new information on stories that ran on the show. The tack is similar to what NBC has done with Dateline, which has aired in off-network syndication since 2017 and airs on a variety of platforms, including CNBC, MSNBC, My Network TV, a FAST 24/7 channel, and local stations. Last year, NBCUniversal Syndication Studios shifted Dateline to NBC-owned stations in several markets, including Chicago where it airs at 1 p.m. on NBC 5 (WMAQ).

48 Hours joins a growing list of true-crime programming popular with viewers. In October 2017, T Dog Media did a deep dive into the genre – one continuing to grow six years later, thanks to the presence of FAST channels. 

“We wanted to do two things: distinguish the library shows that are going to syndication and distinguish from brand-new fresh content that then makes its way downstream,” senior executive producer Judy Tygard told Broadcasting and Cable, who broke the story Monday morning.We added Jericka and Jon because they can give the shows the additional content that’s needed.” 

The 48 Hours open from the Dan Rather-hosted era of the show, from 1989. (CBS)

Originally created by former CBS News president Howard Stringer as a special on the crack epidemic in 1986, 48 Hours began as a standard newsmagazine in January 1988, hosted by then CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather and focused on hard-hitting news and investigation stories. The show transitioned into its current format in the mid-2000s and was rebranded 48 Hours Mystery, or in some cases, 48 Hours Investigates. CBS has aired new episodes Saturdays, one of the few non-sports programs airing on the evening and is a reliable ratings performer. 

Sold by CBS Media Ventures on an all-barter basis (meaning local stations cede half of their ad inventory in the show to CBS to sell to national advertisers in lieu of paying a cash license fee), 48 Hours has cleared 97 percent of the country including fifteen CBS-owned stations. But instead of CBS 2 (WBBM) here, the repackaged 48 Hours episodes were sold to Fox’s My50 (WPWR) instead, airing weekdays at 9 a.m. and 8 p.m., giving CBS primetime clearances for the show in most of the ten largest markets.   

Starting September 11, CBS 2 is moving The Drew Barrymore Show back to 2 p.m. from 9:30 a.m. and restoring it to a full hour (comprised of two separate half-hours) and in an unusual move, shifting the network’s Let’s Make A Deal to 3 p.m. as a news lead-in to replace the out-of-production Dr. Phil show – whose reruns now shift to Nexstar’s WGN-TV weekdays at 1 p.m. on the same date. 

WBBM has aired a network entertainment show in early fringe (3-5 p.m.) before – from January 1982 to June 1986, the station aired Bob Barker’s The Price Is Right at 3 p.m. (and for two months in late 1985 at 4 p.m. to replace the failed talk show America), basically keeping the syndicated 1985-86 nighttime version with Tom Kennedy off the air here, which flopped after one season. 

In addition to CBS-owned stations – including those newly independent ones defecting from The CW, other groups acquiring 48 Hours includes Fox, Sinclair, Tegna, and Nexstar. 

Like Dateline, 48 Hours has also expanded onto other platforms, including custom re-purposed episodes on Discovery’s cable networks and streaming on numerous portals, including CBS News’ streaming channel, Pluto TV, YouTube, and Paramount Plus. There is also a podcast. 

The news comes as CBS Media Ventures announced a management shakeup Monday. Wendy McMahon, who already heads CBS News And Stations (the official name of the CBS stations group) was named as head of the syndicator Monday, replacing Steve LoCascio, who announced his retirement after more than 30 years in the business. LoCascio got his start in 1989 at King World as Controller, and joined the CBS family when the network bought the syndicator ten years later. 


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