CBS This Morning is an American morning television program that is broadcast on CBS. The program, which shares its title with a more traditionally formatted morning program that aired on the network from 1987 to 1999, airs Monday through Saturdays from 7:00 to 9:00 a.m. in all time zones. On weekdays, it airs live in the Eastern Time Zone and on tape-delay in the Central and Mountain Time Zones; stations in the Pacific Time Zone receive an updated feed with a specialized opening and updated live reports. It is the tenth distinct morning news-features program format that CBS has aired since 1954, having replaced The Early Show on January 9, 2012.
The program emphasizes general national and international news stories and in-depth reports throughout each edition, although it also includes live in-studio and pre-taped interviews. The format was chosen as an alternative to the soft news and lifestyle-driven formats of competitors Today and Good Morning America following the first hour or half-hour of those broadcasts, in an attempt to give the program a competitive edge with its hard news format. (CBS has historically placed third in the ratings among the network morning shows.)
CBS This Morning (first incarnation) and The Early Show
The original incarnation of CBS This Morning made its debut on November 30, 1987, with hosts Harry Smith, former Good Morning America news anchor Kathleen Sullivan, and Mark McEwen, a holdover from the show's infotainment-intensive predecessor The Morning Program as weather caster and announcer. Sullivan was replaced by Paula Zahn on February 26, 1990. Beginning on October 26, 1992, in an effort to stop affiliates from dropping the program, CBS increased the amount of time available during the broadcast for local stations, most of which air their own early morning newscasts before the national news program. Despite a far more successful team in Smith, Zahn and McEwen, CBS This Morning continued to languish in third place. It was, however, far more competitive than any of its predecessors. A new set and live format introduced in October 1995 had little effect on the ratings.
Smith and Zahn left the program on June 14, 1996, with CBS News correspondents Harold Dow and Erin Moriarty anchoring CBS This Morning for seven weeks until a new format was in place. In August 1996, the program was revamped again, as simply This Morning, with McEwen and Jane Robelot as co-hosts, news anchor Jose Diaz-Balart (succeeded by Cynthia Bowers and later Thalia Assuras, and finally Julie Chen) and Craig Allen (of WCBS-TV and WCBS-AM radio in New York City) serving as weather anchor.
A new format was created where local stations could opt to air their own newscast from 7:00 to 8:00 a.m. local time, interspersed with inserts from the national broadcast; the second hour of the national broadcast would then air uninterrupted from 8:00 to 9:00 a.m. Ratings went up slightly, and at one point the program even moved ahead of Good Morning America in 1998. But its ratings success was also brief, and CBS announced its decision to cancel the program in early 1999. Robelot left This Morning in June 1999 after it was revealed that the program would be replaced. Assuras served as co-anchor and Chen as newsreader for the show's remaining five months. McEwen left the show at the end of September 1999 to prepare for the launch of The Early Show and was replaced by new anchor Russ Mitchell, who formerly conducted sports segments.
The original This Morning ended on October 29, 1999 after twelve years. It was replaced by The Early Show, which debuted the following Monday, November 1. Though it had occasional peaks in the ratings, The Early Show was a perennial third-place finisher behind NBC's Today and ABC's Good Morning America. In its last year, The Early Show shied away from the news, features, light stories and "infotainment" approach used by program since its debut, that it based off the formats of its two main competitors.
Development and launch
On November 15, 2011, CBS News announced that The Early Show would be cancelled, and that the news division would overhaul its morning news program effective January 9, 2012. The news division's chairman Jeff Fager and president David Rhodes revealed at the official announcement that day that the revamped and retitled program would "redefine the morning television landscape" – meaning that rather than replicate the relaxed lifestyle-driven styles of Today and Good Morning America, the new format would feature a mix of "hard news" (a CBS News hallmark), analysis and discussion. On December 1, 2011, the title of the new show was revealed as CBS This Morning.
The founding executive producer of CBS This Morning was Chris Licht, who was hired by CBS in the spring of 2011 after serving as executive producer of MSNBC's morning news-discussion program Morning Joe. Licht's move to CBS led to speculation that Morning Joe hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski would follow Licht to CBS, as their contracts with MSNBC were set to expire; though Scarborough and Brzezinski confirmed contemplating offers from CBS and other networks, they signed a new contract with MSNBC out of a belief that their interview-intensive approach could not be duplicated on broadcast television.
CBS instead tapped a trio of noted television veterans for the weekday editions of This Morning: Early Show holdover Erica Hill, Gayle King and Charlie Rose. Licht describes Rose, who previously hosted CBS's former overnight news program CBS News Nightwatch (which was replaced by Up to the Minute and later CBS Overnight News) in the 1980s, and has also served as a part-time correspondent for occasional segments since 2008 on the long-running newsmagazine 60 Minutes, as "an incredible interviewer."
Licht promised an "outside the box" approach to CBS This Morning, insisting that the show would not include forced anchor banter, cooking segments, "comedic weather forecasters, [or] cheering fans on an outdoor plaza."
On July 26, 2012, CBS announced that its Chief White House Correspondent Norah O'Donnell would replace Hill starting in September 2012. Hill was pulled from the program immediately after the announcement (an absence which was not explained on the broadcast), and was eventually released from her CBS contract (Hill later joined NBC four months later in November 2012, becoming a co-host of the weekend editions of Today).
The first hour of the show is news-intensive and includes more original journalism and analysis, with regular contributors. The 8:00 hour, which currently begins with the "EyeOpener @ 8," recaps the news from the first hour, leading into a brief summary of the morning's news headlines, before shifting focus to interviews and discussion (à la Morning Joe) and lighter fare.
True to Licht's "no comedic weather" promise, the show does not include any standalone national weather segments – this makes This Morning the only national morning news program on any of the "Big Three" networks not to include such a segment, although time is allotted for CBS affiliates to insert their own local weather forecasts (with national maps and forecasts or a text-only list of forecasts for individual cities nationwide provided for affiliates that do not insert their own weather updates, particularly those that do not have a news department).
However, the program will use local meteorologists from CBS stations to provide the forecast during major severe weather events (such as hurricanes, wildfires, and blizzards). Most frequently, meteorologists from one of CBS's owned-and-operated stations - such as Eric Fisher of Boston O&O WBZ-TV and Lonnie Quinn (former meteorologist for the program's Saturday edition) of flagship New York City O&O WCBS-TV - appear weekdays (as needed), and Ed Curran of Chicago O&O WBBM-TV works the Saturday edition (when necessary).
For the Pacific, Alaska and Hawaii–Aleutian Time Zones (along with most of Arizona during daylight saving time), an updated version of the broadcast incorporates an additional greeting to those viewers ("Good morning to our viewers in the West! and "As you are waking up in the West..."), along with updated reports previously denoted by the reporter specifically acknowledging the viewers in that part of the country (e.g., "Good morning and Good morning to our viewers watching us in the West").
For stations that do not make use of the local news cutaways at :26 and :56 minutes past the hour (including CBS affiliates that do not have a news department), the program uses a taped story introduced by that day's anchor of the CBS Morning News to fill that time; previously it contained a happy talk segment between the anchors and panelists.
CBS This Morning operates out of a set in Studio 57 at the CBS Broadcast Center (numbered for the facility's street address in Manhattan, West 57th Street). The new set was originally planned for use by The Early Show before its cancellation; that program was based out of the windowed General Motors Building during its entire run which was shared with the network's NFL pre-game show The NFL Today at times, though during the final year of The Early Show, the windows were covered at all times due to the change to a hard-news focus. A section of the studio's exterior, covered in white walls and adorned with the CBS Eye logo (and also bearing the message shown at right), was featured in promos for the show that began airing in early December 2011.
Bits and pieces of the CBS This Morning set were revealed in promos and web videos released prior to the program's debut, with the full set unveiled during the January 2012 premiere. Some of the set's features include:
- Real exposed brick walls and dark hardwood flooring
- An in-the-round anchor desk, topped in clear lucite and etched with the famous "Eyemark", as well as additional "prong" sections which can be removed if necessary
- Moveable monitors, allowing guests who appear via satellite to "sit" alongside their interviewers at the anchor desk
- Various items representing CBS News's legacy (most prominently a world map from the venerated Walter Cronkite tenure of the CBS Evening News)
- An adjoining newsroom (which was not ready in time for the premiere), complete with large windows facing the street (allowing passers-by to look in)
- A visible green room (complete with the only couch on the set), allowing viewers to catch a glimpse of behind-the-scenes action
Also included on the set, as reported by TV Guide reporter Stephen Battaglio, is an Oakland Athletics baseball cap; executive producer Chris Licht included it to remind his staff of the sports film Moneyball, whose central character (team executive Billy Beane, played in the film by Brad Pitt) took an "outside-the-box" approach that Licht hopes CBS This Morning replicates (Licht has called the show "The Moneyball of TV" – a take-off on the methodology featured in the 2011 film – and screened the film prior to the premiere for This Morning staffers as a motivational tool).
Notable on-air staff
The program was originally anchored by Rose, Hill and King. Hill left the show about six months following its debut, and was replaced by O'Donnell. In November 2017, Rose was suspended and subsequently fired following sexual harassment accusations made against him became public knowledge. Upon Rose's firing, various anchors have filled the third spot on a rotating basis.
- Don Dahler – special correspondent
Former on-air staff
- Harry Smith – anchor (1987–1996)
- Kathleen Sullivan – anchor (1987–1990)
- Paula Zahn – anchor (1990–1996)
- Harold Dow – interim anchor (1996)
- Erin Moriarty – interim anchor (1996)
- Mark McEwen – anchor (1996–1999; previous worked as weather and entertainment reporter from 1987–1996)
- Jane Robelot – anchor (1996–1999)
- Thalia Assuras – anchor (1999; previously worked as newsreader from 1996–1999)
- Russ Mitchell – anchor (1999; previously worked as sports reporter)
- Erica Hill – anchor (January–July 2012; now at HLN)
- John Miller – senior correspondent (resigned from CBS in 2014 to take a position with the New York Police Department)
- Charlie Rose – anchor (2012–2017; fired by CBS after sexual misconduct allegations revealed by The Washington Post)
It airs live from 7:00 to 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time, although local air times for the Saturday broadcast vary significantly from station to station, even within the same time zone; in some markets, the local CBS affiliate may opt to pre-empt CBS This Morning Saturday – usually to carry extended weekend morning local newscasts – and may instead air it on a digital subchannel (such as with WFMY-TV in Greensboro, North Carolina) or a sister station (such as the case with MyNetworkTV affiliate WNDY-TV in Indianapolis, which aired it in lieu of co-owned WISH-TV until that station lost its CBS affiliation in January 2015; WWL-TV in New Orleans does the same, moving it to sister station WUPL to carry their strong local morning newscast). Most CBS affiliates in the Central Time Zone carry the Saturday edition live from 6:00 to 8:00 a.m. Central Time, unlike its morning counterparts, which air their Saturday editions on a tape delay; it is the only morning program that airs live in both the Eastern and Central time zones, whereas the Saturday edition is aired on tape delay in the remaining time zones.
When it debuted, the Saturday edition was originally anchored by Rebecca Jarvis and Jeff Glor, with Betty Nguyen serving as the program's news anchor and Lonnie Quinn as weather anchor. After Glor was named anchor of the Sunday edition of the CBS Evening News, the program started using various male correspondents, including Anthony Mason, Jim Axelrod, Maurice DuBois, James Brown, Byron Pitts, Ben Tracy, Lee Cowan, Seth Doane and John Miller, rotating every other Saturday.
Like the weekend editions of the other network morning shows, the program has a greater focus on human-interest pieces than its weekday counterpart, though it still concentrates primarily on the news of the day during the first half-hour. It also retains some of the common features of the morning show genre which have been removed from the weekday show, such as musical performances and food segments, and a couch moved temporarily onto the main set where the hosts introduce certain segments; likewise, it did not include some features of the weekday program including the "EyeOpener" (which was added at the top of the first hour of the broadcast on June 14, 2014). It also continued to include formal national weather segments until March 2013; Lonnie Quinn served as the Saturday edition's weather anchor until his unannounced departure in late 2012, with meteorologists from CBS owned-and-operated stations substituting until formal weather segments were dropped in accordance with the weekday editions of the program.
An exception to the usual Saturday format occurred on February 2, 2013 (the day before Super Bowl XLVII), when the weekday anchor team hosted from New Orleans (where the game was held at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome), an edition that was branded as simply CBS This Morning (instead of CBS This Morning Saturday) and was formatted similarly to the weekday program, including "EyeOpener" segments at the top of both hours. CBS This Morning does not produce a Sunday edition, due to the presence of the long-running CBS News Sunday Morning, a newsmagazine that debuted in 1979 (and is a remnant of a short-lived reformatting of the original CBS Morning News broadcast that lasted until 1982). In contrast to CBS This Morning, CBS Sunday Morning has long led the ratings among the Sunday network morning shows.
Former on-air staff
- Rebecca Jarvis – anchor (2012–2013)
- Jeff Glor – anchor (2012)
- Betty Nguyen – news anchor (2012)
- Lonnie Quinn – weather anchor (2012)
- Vinita Nair (2013–2016)
In Australia, a trimmed version (for 70 minutes excluding commercials) of the CBS This Morning weekday edition currently airs on CBS's sister network (since November 2017) Network Ten, along with regional affiliate WIN Television, weekday mornings from 4am until 6am AEST, with the Friday edition held over to the following Monday. A national weather map of Australia is inserted during local affiliate cutaways for weather. Commercial advertising is inserted instead of the usual cutaway to local news, however, near-simultaneously with the other U.S. "Big Three" television networks' breakfast television programs, with ABC-TV's Good Morning America on the Nine Network from 3:30 a.m. and NBC's Today airing on the Seven Network from 4 a.m. It is subject to preemption in regional areas for paid and religious programming. Unlike the Nine Network and Seven Network, the weekend edition is not shown.
The format of CBS This Morning was praised by Associated Press critic Frazier Moore, noting the network was differentiating itself from its competitors with its focus on hard news: "CBS This Morning has, in effect, vowed to keep the silliness to a minimum, and its first week is promising." He noted the absence of tabloid news items, saying "[what] CBS This Morning didn't have – that, too, provides a good argument for watching." Gail Shister of TVNewser gave Charlie Rose "an A for effort" for stretching past his usual slate of hard news into pop-culture stories. Shister concluded, "CBS is not reinventing morning TV. But at least they’re trying, and that, in itself, is good news."
Awards and nominations
Upon the show's launch, CBS executives said that they expected it would take years for a ratings turnaround in the morning time period. The program debuted to an average of 2.72 million viewers (1.11 million in the key demographic of adults 25 to 54 years old) in its first week; its total viewership was 10% lower than The Early Show's during the same week in the previous year. As of August 2015, CBS This Morning continued to show the most growth, up to 12 percent in viewers and up to 14 percent in the A25-54 demo vs. the same week in 2014, with 3.196 million viewers.
In November 2016, "CBS This Morning" came within striking distance of Today and scored the best November sweeps month for a CBS morning show in 23 years, averaging 2.8 million viewers - only 800,000 viewers behind "Today."