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Listen: How CBSN Steers Clear of the Polarized News Climate

EVP/GM Christy Tanner targets viewers who are looking for more than the usual soundbites

Christy Tanner Variety TV Summit
Katie Jones/Variety/Shutterstock

Let Fox News Channel focus on conservative viewers and MSNBC lean toward a liberal audience. That leaves a big middle ground for CBSN to pursue, according to Christy Tanner, executive VP and GM at CBS News Digital.

CBS Corp.’s five-year-old streaming-only news network is happy to let its linear competitors indulge in partisan talking points because CBSN is finding that more substantive reporting is attracting political moderates, independents and other segments of the population.

“Add up all those constituencies together and there is an enormous mass market audience for news that is about fact and not opinion, and that is what CBSN is tapping into,” said Tanner on the latest episode of the Variety podcast “Strictly Business.” “The percentage of the U.S. population that is not polarized is much bigger than one would think if all you did was listen to the media’s coverage of itself.”

Listen to the podcast here:

Of course, CBSN is about much more than politics; there’s plenty of breaking news as well, demonstrating the network’s ability to tap the news division’s global resources. But Tanner is also proud of how her streaming operation tackles important subjects like the environment and consumer privacy in a way that traditional TV news rarely does.

“When we do our climate coverage, it’s not just pictures of polar bears floating away on icebergs,” said Tanner.  “What we have found is there is an audience that’s really hungry for that type of deep dive into these important topics.”

Strictly Business” is Variety’s weekly podcast featuring conversations with industry leaders about the business of entertainment. Past episodes include conversations with Discovery CEO David Zaslav and Dana Walden, co-head of 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Television Group. A new episode debuts each Wednesday and can be downloaded on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher, and SoundCloud.