CBC News launches local news streaming channels, radio streams

 (CBC - image credit)
(CBC - image credit)

We use this editor's blog to explain our journalism and what's happening at CBC News. You can find more blogs here.

Local journalism is a priority for CBC, especially now as the regional news business shrinks amid staggering challenges to its underlying financials and a tech-driven disruption in media consumption habits.

For CBC News, local service means being in the community. But it also means being present on the platforms and devices that an increasing number of people use to access news and information — be it in big cities or in small.

That's why today we announced the official launch of two new local news streaming channels, along with plans to launch another 12 free local streams within a year.

CBC News B.C. and CBC News Toronto are our latest FAST (free ad-supported streaming TV) channels, joining our original national FAST channel, CBC News Explore. These new local streams are available on CBC Gem, the CBC News App and internet-connected TV platforms like The Roku Channel and, very soon, Samsung TV Plus.

Depending on the location, our new local channels will feature a mix of local headlines, weather and community notices, newscasts and local live programming.

They are part of a strategic effort to get more regional news video — live and on-demand — in front of local audiences whenever they're looking for it on the digital platforms of their choice, from smart TVs to CBCNews.ca, our apps and YouTube.

At the same time, we've made 19 live local CBC Radio One audio streams available under the "local" tab in our News App so users can effectively turn their mobile device into a radio. The persistent audio player allows you to tap into our best-in-class radio programs live from across the country while browsing articles in the app, using other apps or, if you choose, while your phone is off.

This new app feature follows the recent launch of seven hyper-local podcasts in Victoria, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Ottawa, Montreal and Charlottetown.

People use multitude of platforms

Here's a little more background on our strategy:

First, reflect for a moment on where you've watched, read or listened to content this past week.

If you're like me, you're using a variety of services and platforms. My week of media will include everything from print newspapers (yes, print!) delivered to my door early in the morning, radio via voice-activated speakers and the car dashboard, podcasts, video streaming services like CBC Gem, Netflix, Prime, Apple TV, Roku TV and Samsung TV Plus, YouTube, several news websites and social media apps on my mobile phone, email newsletters and more.


I'm not alone. Canadian audiences are highly fragmented, getting their news and entertainment from a multitude of places.

Complicating the picture is a generational divide, with younger Canadians getting most of their news on social media, aggregators, YouTube and streamers, while older Canadians tend to rely more on broadcast TV and radio.

Today, if a news service like ours is to be relevant to a broad audience, it must find a way to be in multiple places at the same time.

By that same measure, to infer the success of any news organization based on how it performs on a single platform is folly. Just as a newspaper today does not measure its success based only on its print circulation, CBC News does not measure its success based only on how many people watch a scheduled television program at a certain time of the day via a traditional cable or satellite TV package.

The media universe is so much broader and richer than that.

Yes, there are large numbers of people we serve on linear TV, radio and websites. There are also growing numbers of people looking for journalism on mobile apps, streaming services and internet-enabled TVs.

We will be there for them all — and especially in the local communities that form the backbone of our network.

You can check out the CBC News B.C. and CBC News Toronto FAST channels on CBC Gem. The CBC News App — now with 19 local live radio streams — can be downloaded for free.