More news on weekends is good news for CBS 2

press-cbs2chicagoAlso: CBS 2 adds “Good Wife”, “Blue Bloods” to weekend late fringe

On the surface, CBS 2’s decision to expand their weekend newscasts would be greeted with as much enthusiasm as driving on the Eisenhower.

But to the political advertising community, the news of a another news expansion was like waking up on Christmas morning.

As first reported by Robert Feder Tuesday morning, CBS-owned WBBM-TV announced a major weekend news expansion – its second one in several years – by adding three more hours to its current total. WBBM is adding a 5 a.m. hour to its Saturday and Sunday newscasts, adjacent to its existing 6 a.m.-7 a.m. slot on Saturday and its 6 a.m.-8 a.m. slot on Sundays. Meanwhile, CBS 2 will add an extra half-hour to its late weekend newscasts, expanding to 11 p.m., mirroring a similar move WLS-TV made last year.

The last time WBBM aired news programming at 10:30 p.m. on a Sunday was Eye On Chicago, which was canceled after host Antonio Mora left town. In the 1980’s and 1990’s, WBBM aired either Bears Extra or a Sunday sports show in that slot.

The changes take effect on Sept. 13. Jim Williams and Mai Martinez anchors the expanded late news shows while Marissa Bailey anchor the morning programs, with Ed Curran on weather.

In a statement, CBS 2 GM Marty Wilke explained : “Local news is becoming more important on weekends. By adding three additional hours of news, we will have more time to tell our viewers what’s happening in and around Chicago.”

A similar move to expand news on weekends were also made in recent years by other Chicago news stations. Recently, WGN-TV added early fringe newscasts on weekends, while WLS expanded its weekend morning shows.

What may be driving local stations desire to expand their newscasts is to cater to political advertisers, who plan to spend heavily between now and November for the Governor’s race. After that is the 2015 Mayoral race, then the 2016 campaign for the White House. Political advertisers and Super PACs usually prefer news programs to reach potential voters, who are more engaged.

In 2009, WBBM canceled its weekend newscasts due to low ratings and budget cuts, but restored them last year due to viewer and advertiser demand.

Meanwhile, WBBM has scheduled syndicated weekend repeats of The Good Wife and Blue Bloods from CBS Television Distribution on Saturday and Sunday nights respectively, also beginning Sept. 13 and Sept. 14, with back-to-back episodes airing at 11 p.m. and midnight.

WBBM was part of a larger Good Wife syndication deal with CTD in 2013, giving them and other CBS-owned stations weekend rights with Amazon and Hulu Plus obtaining streaming rights and Hallmark Channel gaining weekday stripping rights this fall.

Also arriving to off-network weekend syndication this fall is Disney-ABC Domestic Television’s Scandal, which is likely to air on WLS.