The Media Notepad: CBS 2 to launch 9 a.m. newscast

Also: NewsNation add late morning news block; Scripps adds digital subchannels to DirecTV; Samsung bulks up Plus TV 

As expected, CBS 2 (WBBM-TV) is launching a new 9 a.m. half-hour newscast, starting September 12:

Anchoring the newscast are Audrina Bigos and Ryan Baker, with Laura Bannon on weather. 

The move is part of an initiative by CBS News And Stations president Wendy McMahon to add local newscasts after network morning show CBS Mornings. Similar moves are also taking place in seven other CBS O&O markets, including New York, Philadelphia, Dallas-Ft. Worth, and Miami. CBS 2 and several other CBS-owned stations are airing the first half-hour on-air and on their streaming news channels at 9 a.m. with the second half-hour exclusively streaming online, which in this case is CBS News Chicago (formerly CBSN Chicago). 

Currently, the 9 a.m. slot is occupied by The Drew Barrymore Show, which swapped an afternoon 2 p.m. slot with Let’s Make A Deal in August 2021. To make room for the local half-hour newscasts on the CBS O&Os, Barrymore is being split into two half-hours in syndication: locally, the first half-hour is airing at 9:30 a.m. while both half-hours are airing on CW 26 (WCIU) at 12:00 a.m. and 12:30 a.m., meaning if you want to see the second half-hour, you would have to stay up late – or DVR it.

Other schedule changes taking place including Fox 32 (WFLD) slotting Sherri Shepherd’s new Sherri at 10 a.m. and Jennifer Hudson at 11 a.m.; My50 (WPWR) running Pictionary at 3 and 3:30 p.m.; and Maury reruns shifting over to CW 26, airing at 11 a.m. and at 3 a.m., with the new Karamo taking up the noon slot. We’ll have a more detailed look at the new season for syndication in a few weeks. 

As the all-news network enters its third year of operation, NewsNation announced Tuesday the expansion into the late morning with a new, two-hour hard news show anchor by Marni Hughes giving them 96 hours of live programming news a week with NewsNation Live With Marni Hughes.

“Marni Hughes is an award-winning veteran journalist and an experienced anchor who has been a vital part of NewsNation since its launch two years ago,” said Michael Corn, President of News in a press release. “We are thrilled she will play an integral role in our latest daytime expansion.”

The news show begins September 19 airing from 9 to 11 a.m. Central Time, replacing off-network reruns of Blue Bloods. NewsNation launched on September 1, 2020.

Hughes was part of NewsNation from day one, appearing as one of three who anchored a three-hour NewsNation prime-time block on the then-WGN America. Since then, NewsNation has abandoned its original hard news block preferring to go with news analysis programming instead (with former CNN castoff Chris Cuomo joining the lineup October 8). Two of the three who originally anchored the prime-time block (Joe Donlon and meteorologist Albert Ramos) are now with CBS 2.

“Having been at NewsNation since its inception, I am grateful to have shared so many important stories that have impacted people on both a local and national level,” Hughes said. “As I prepare for my latest role as host of NewsNation Live, I am really looking forward to continuing to shine a light on the headlines and issues that matter most to our viewers.”

Hughes will continue to contribute to the networks shows regarding missing person cases.

With the addition, NewsNation is now a little more than halfway through (96 out of 168 hours per week) its goal of becoming a full-fledged 24/7 cable news network. The Nexstar-owned channel – who markets themselves as an alternative to the big three cable news nets, actually has an opportunity to gain viewers who are dismayed by CNN’s recent political tilt since being taken over by new ownership – but there is considerable doubt they can pull it off.

In a major breakthrough that’s a long time coming, Scripps’ Grit and Bounce networks have struck deals for nationwide carriage on DirecTV, becoming the first digital subchannels to do so. Grit features western-themed shows and movies; Bounce targets black audiences (though one movie Thursday afternoon featured a film with hardly any black people in it.) Grit is featured on channel 81 on DirecTV; Bounce is on channel 82. It appears DirecTV is broadcasting the HD feeds of both channels as they are not available in some places due to the limitations from multiplexing a local station’s over-the-air signal. 

“Bounce is the fastest growing Black-audience-focused network on television, and the enormous popularity of the western genre has made Grit a hot and highly-rated network as well,” said Jeffrey Wolf, who is chief distribution officer for Scripps Networks division. “DirecTV recognizes the importance and value in offering both networks, and we look forward to their customers enjoying Bounce and Grit for years to come.”

Launched in 2005, Bounce appears on Scripps’ WCPX-Ch.38.2, while Grit appears on Univision’s WGBO-Ch.66.5, who was not directly involved in the DirecTV deal. Scripps hosts separate Free Advertiser-Supported Television, or FAST channels (Grit and Bounce XL, respectively) on numerous platforms. 

Even though this is the first appearance of digital subchannels on DirecTV, it’s not the case at least in the Chicago area as MeTV has had a presence on DirecTV since the mid-2000s, but it is actually the feed of Weigel Broadcasting low-power station WWME-CD (Ch. 23), who originated the MeTV format originally as a local channel in 2005.  

Scripps has expanded its linear networks in recent months, adding Ion as a streaming channel to numerous platforms including Samsung TV and Vizio, who added channels Newsy, Ion Plus, and Bounce’s Brown Sugar in recent months. 

As more and more viewers “cut the cord”, Samsung is beefing up its content for its Plus TV service. 

Announced last week, the set maker added Scripps channels (as mentioned above) and added new shows Top Gear, Law & Order: SVU, Chicago Fire, and NCIS. In addition, Samsung created two exclusive channels to Plus TV: Ride or Drive, a channel devoted to car enthusiasts; and Samsung Showcase, a channel featuring free “premium” content, including concerts, live events, and specials and is developing a new home improvement channel with A+E Networks. The channel also recently introduced a new logo, as you can see to your left.

Established in 2016, Samsung Plus TV has become a global hit: “As an early player in the free ad-supported streaming TV space with unrivaled expertise across hardware, software and services at a truly global scale, Samsung TV Plus has become a top viewing destination for consumers around the globe,” said Won-Jin Lee, who is president and head of the service business team at Samsung Electronics. “We are thrilled to recognize the massive growth we’ve achieved so far across 24 countries and over 1,600 channels globally. Samsung TV Plus’ new brand signifies our continued investment into the future of FAST.”

Samsung is also planning to expand their news offerings featuring more local and weather channels – already, they offer NBCUniversal’s local owned-and-operated news channels, including NBC 5’s (WMAQ) here in Chicago and is expected to double their current video-on-demand offerings, making them a viable option for cord cutters. Samsung TV Plus is found on all Samsung sets 2016 and later, Galaxy devices, and even Family Hub refrigerators – yes, even refrigerators. So if you’re going to the kitchen to get yourself a snack or if you’re cooking dinner, you can watch a little TV on the fridge while doing so. Yum. 

Recently, Samsung offered their viewers a free two minute preview of Amazon Prime new anticipated (and very expensive) series The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power, the first television series developed from the movie franchise. 

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