CBS News Digital Chief Christy Tanner Departs ViacomCBS

By A.J. Katz 

CBS News Digital evp and gm Christy Tanner is leaving ViacomCBS after eight years with CBS Interactive, and the past five with CBS News Digital.

“The fact is I haven’t wanted to miss a minute of the incredible opportunity it has been to work with you – building CBSN into the leading streaming news service, transforming CBS News Digital into a powerhouse and establishing news as a pillar of CBS All Access, Paramount+ and Pluto,” Tanner told staff in a memo, obtained by TVNewser. “I’m so proud of all that we have accomplished together: We focused on the public’s need for trusted reporting while significantly expanding our editorial coverage. We delivered groundbreaking digital and streaming products. We consistently drove double- and triple-digit audience and revenue growth, smashing our own records month after month. We are integral to the company’s AVOD and SVOD strategies.”

Tanner joined CBS from TV Guide Digital nearly a decade ago, and has been a visionary in the world of streaming news. She helped develop CBSN, CBS’ ad-supported streaming news service which launched in November 2014. The service has grown over time, and posted triple-digit year-over-year audience growth in Q4 2020 and Q1 ’21. CBSN launched globally in 89 countries during the past year.

From the success of CBSN came CBSN Local, the local streaming news service that provides 24/7 news coverage and live breaking news events from major markets served by CBS stations. CBSN Local launched with CBSN Local New York in Q4 2018. CBSN Sacramento launched earlier this week, the company’s 11th CBSN Local stream.

CBS’ news and stations businesses were recently combined into a new unit led by two new executives — former ABC stations president Wendy McMahon, and former Hearst executive Neeraj Khemlani. McMahon will likely take on many of Tanner’s responsibilities. She has deep experience in digital news, having run digital for the ABC O&Os before she was appointed ABC stations president. Khemlani also spent three years at Yahoo News. They have the digital part covered.

CBS Entertainment Group chief executive George Cheeks sent a memo to staff addressing Tanner’s departure:

Team – I wanted to share with you that Christy Tanner has decided to leave ViacomCBS. Christy and her world-class team have established CBS News Digital as the marketplace leader in streaming news innovation, expanding our breaking news, editorial and reporting capabilities while continually setting growth records. I am grateful to Christy for leading my deep dive on CBS News Digital and continuing to make it a crucial part of our overall news offering.

Christy has created an inclusive culture marked by strong partnerships throughout the organization. Under her transformational leadership, CBSN has consistently dominated the OTT competition – 30% ahead of CNN and 70% ahead of NBC News Now in monthly unique users from September 2020 – April 2021, according to comScore. CBS News Digital delivered triple-digit YOY audience growth in Q4 and Q1, with CBSN surpassing 1 billion streams in 2020. During the past year, CBSN launched globally in 89 countries, and this week launched CBSN Sacramento, the company’s 11th CBSN Local stream in partnership with the CBS Stations team.

In addition to her work within the company, Christy currently serves as one of 282 global UN Women Leaders for Generation Equality. She has served as co-chair of Digital Content Next, the leading trade organization serving premium digital content companies, and as co-chair of the Reykjavik Global Forum for Women Leaders.

You can read Christy’s note to her team below. Please join me in thanking Christy for her tremendous contributions to the company and in wishing her the best of luck in all of her future endeavors.

Below, Tanner’s note to her staff:

Since it’s another busy news day, I’ll keep this simple: I’ve decided to leave ViacomCBS. It’s been eight years since I joined CBS Interactive, five years since I joined CBS News Digital, and … never years since I took some solid time off.

The fact is I haven’t wanted to miss a minute of the incredible opportunity it has been to work with you – building CBSN into the leading streaming news service, transforming CBS News Digital into a powerhouse and establishing news as a pillar of CBS All Access, Paramount+ and Pluto.

I’m so proud of all that we have accomplished together: We focused on the public’s need for trusted reporting while significantly expanding our editorial coverage. We delivered groundbreaking digital and streaming products. We consistently drove double- and triple-digit audience and revenue growth, smashing our own records month after month. We are integral to the company’s AVOD and SVOD strategies.

In the past year, amid numerous challenges and a relentless pace, you’ve demonstrated resilience, resourcefulness and dedication to expanding our coverage and its reach: We launched globally in 89 countries, added three additional CBSN local streams for a total of 11, debuted Video Push Alerts, started a long-form documentary unit and delivered our 80th CBSN Original short-form documentary – while continually breaking news day-to-day and working remotely.

The results:
• On average, CBS News in the OTT category is 30% ahead of CNN and 70% ahead of NBC, according to comScore Sept. 2020-April 2021.
• Q4 2020 and Q1 2021 were the #1 and #2 quarters all time for CBSN streams, up 102% year over year.
• Q4 2020 and Q1 2021 were the #1 and #2 quarters all time for CBS News Digital monthly average users, up 142% year over year.

While making all of the above look easy, you remained remarkably poised and humble. Most importantly, you built and maintained the culture we aimed for at CBS News Digital – kind, supportive, team-based, and public service-oriented. Thank you for the privilege of being your colleague. I’ve learned so much from all of you, and I am looking forward to seeing you continue to set new standards for excellence.

With sincere admiration,
Christy

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