CBS News is shaking up its morning show in a big way.
Former NFL wide receiver and CBS Sports’ The NFL Today analyst Nate Burleson is joining CBS This Morning as its newest co-host, replacing longtime CBS Newser Anthony Mason on the broadcast in September.
Burleson is also a co-host on NFL Network’s Good Morning Football, but this would mean he would depart that program. However, his role on NFL Network will actually expand to include a larger variety of programs and platforms. While no longer on GMF, Burleson will appear on various NFL Network shows, such as NFL GameDay and NFL Total Access and on-location coverage of events such as Super Bowl week, NFL Honors and training camp, as well as maintain a larger presence on NFL Media’s social media and podcast offerings.
One can make a strong argument that adding Burleson to the morning show as co-host represents the most significant move that CBS This Morning executive producer Shawna Thomas and CBS News presidents and co-heads Neeraj Khemlani and Wendy McMahon have made since stepping into their respective roles earlier this year.
Khemlani and McMahon also parted ways with CBS Evening News executive producer Jay Shaylor last month, a clear sign that the new leaders want to leave a significant imprint on the news division.
“Nate is an extremely gifted broadcaster, interviewer and storyteller, whose deep curiosity and enthusiasm is the perfect fit for mornings on CBS,” Khemlani said in a statement. “His wide range of experience and interests—from news to sports, from music to poetry and from fashion to cryptocurrency—provides a unique perspective that will deepen the show’s connection with our viewers. He excites audiences in every arena and we’re fortunate to have Nate joining Gayle and Tony at the table in September.”
CBS executives have been high on Burleson for a while now, as the above quote makes clear. In addition to being a popular NFL analyst for CBS since joining the network’s NFL studio show in 2017, he garnered rave reviews for his color commentary work on Nickelodeon’s special kids-themed broadcast of the 2020 NFL Wild Card game.
Burleson’s new agreement with ViacomCBS also includes select yearly appearances on Nickelodeon in a variety of capacities.
Burleson is no stranger to CBS This Morning. He appeared on CBS This Morning’s What to Watch segment with Vlad Duthiers back in May to announce CBS’s week 1 NFL matchups. CBS News executives liked him so much that they brought him in to co-host for a couple of days while regular CTM co-host Tony Dokoupil was out on paternity leave in May.
Guess they were impressed by those guest co-host appearances as well.
The addition of Burleson will immediately bring up comparisons to Michael Strahan on ABC’s Good Morning America. Both are former NFL players turned morning show hosts. CBS does have a history of moving their sports and news talent. The NFL Today host James Brown is a CBS News special correspondent. Additionally, the original host of The NFL Today, the late Phyllis George, had a brief stint as co-anchor of CBS Morning News in the mid-’80s. Hopefully Burleson’s stint on CBS’ morning show will be a bit less rocky than George’s.
This is a newscast in need of a jolt, and perhaps the addition of a high-energy personality like Burleson gives them one.
Gayle King‘s contract with CBS News expires next year. It remains to be seen if she sticks around or leaves.
Mason appears to be the odd man out here. One can argue that he has been CBS News’ most versatile on-air talent since joining the network in 1992. Before taking on the CBS This Morning co-host role in May 2019, he served as the co-host of CBS This Morning: Saturday for many years. As a correspondent, he has contributed to many CBS News broadcasts over his long career at the network, and served as the primary interim anchor of The CBS Evening News in 2017—the bridge between Scott Pelley and Jeff Glor and later Glor and Norah O’Donnell in 2019.
Concerning Mason, below is a note from Khemlani to CBS News staff, obtained by TVNewser:
CBS This Morning has never been stronger than we are today. We have stood out in stories large and small, international and domestic, and just this week with an exclusive that significantly advanced the reporting on the Gov. Cuomo story. The opportunity for us to build on this momentum is right here and right now.
We have already announced the launch of a new state of the art studio in Times Square in Sept. We’ll be sharing more details on the launch soon, but what we can say is that we will continue to evolve the format of the show to allow us to double-down and showcase original reporting and exquisite storytelling—adding more depth, breadth and range to each hour of the program.
In developing this next chapter, I have been speaking with Anthony Mason. He has shared his passion for the kind of storytelling we are looking to increase across the news division and he will take on a new role that is tailor-made for him. After 40 years as one of the great talents, writing and crafting impeccable pieces that are thought provoking and memorable, later this summer Anthony will step away from the anchor desk to do what he loves most—reporting stories about culture.
Anthony is committed to covering culture—both in terms of how it defines the atmosphere of the country and how culture changes it. He believes fiercely that art and music are integral to our culture, not merely odd indulgences. They frequently define our time in very real ways. We want to enable him to do more culture reporting on a regular basis across our morning programs and develop ideas for our digital platforms where he can do the kinds of stories that he says, “will be as daring as the art and music that we cover.”
Anthony has had one of the most impressive, varied careers in broadcast television and it should be no surprise to any of us that he is leading the charge into another frontier that is bold and exciting, particularly at this time of transformation for our company.
I will share later this morning more news about our plans for the future of the morning broadcast. There is a lot in development, and Shawna and I will be taking her team through some of the key changes today. We’re excited to take mornings on CBS in a direction that allows the journalism and storytelling we do so well to continue to lead the conversation and define the culture of our times.