The clock has stopped ticking for “60 Minutes Plus,” the streaming spinoff of the venerable CBS News mainstay that was once envisioned as a means of introducing the next generation of viewers to the popular Sunday newsmagazine that has been broadcasting for more than half a century.
Staffers were informed of the decision Thursday morning, according to people familiar with the matter. The company expects to work with employees to find other jobs within ViacomCBS and executives remain committed to making news programming a central part of Paramount Plus, which has been the most recent home of the new show.
“We are proud of the team at 60 Minutes Plus” and of the stories they produced, which informed the audience about some of the most important issues of our time,” Paramount Plus said in a statement. “Their journalism was recognized with several awards, including a Gracie, National Headliner and NABJ Salute to Excellence Award. The excellent work that has been done by the 60 Plus team will continue to be on Paramount Plus.”
“60 Minutes” is one of the the great TV-news brands, instantly recognizable to multiple generations of consumers. And CBS has tried to expand it in the past, most notably with “60 Minutes II,” a Wednesday-night counterpart to the original that debuted in 1999 and lasted until 2005. “60 Minutes Plus,” however, represented an attempt to take the newsmagazine and extend it to new terrain, a streaming venue where viewers have different expectations about content, length and format. They typical “60 Minutes” TV segment lasts around 12 minutes. Streaming viewers may only want half that — and not necessarily want to see as much of the correspondent as they do in more traditional venues.
The show represented an “opportunity for us to get our journalism in front of people who probably see ’60 Minutes’ when they are giving their mother and father a kiss and going out to see their friends,” said Bill Owens, the executive producer of “60 Minutes,” in an interview with Variety in 2020. “Let’s reach them where they are.”
The on-air staff of “60 Minutes Plus” consisted of CBS News correspondent Seth Doane; Wesley Lowery, the journalist who won a 2016 Pulitzer Prize for work done at The Washington Post; CBS News correspondent Enrique Acevedo, a former Univision News anchor who was the first Latino correspondent in “60 Minutes” history; and Laurie Segall, a former CNN journalist who also has her own news-and-production company, Dot Dot Dot. A person familiar with the matter said CBS News is in active discussions with everyone involved with the show, including Lowery, who is not a full-time CBS News employee. Lowery could not be reached for immediate comment. Segall left the program around the end of 2021, and is said to be at work launching a technology-news outlet to cover Web3 activity and innovation.
News content is supposed to be one of the pillars of programming at Paramount Plus, but the streaming venue has other sources. It is the home to several documentary projects from See It Now Studios, the new production unit led by Susan Zirinsky, the former president of CBS News.