ABC to reshape news webcast

ABC News is about to scrap the current format of its daily World News webcast, an online version of the evening news anchored by Charles Gibson, which the network trumpeted as a major step into its digital future when it launched two years ago, the “Wall Street Journal” reported.

Troubles with the newscast illustrate a larger struggle across the broadcast landscape to deliver news on the Internet. The “Journal” said broadcast networks’ news divisions haven’t been able to convince many viewers or advertisers to move with them online, in part because their TV audience is older.

The newspaper said ABC’s nightly news show drew 7.6 million daily TV viewers last week. NBC had slightly more, and third-place CBS attracted 5.8 million. But the audience is aging and doesn’t tend to access news on the Internet.

Last Monday, logged 7.8 million page views, according to an internal traffic report. Of those, the “World News” page, which includes stories and photos as well as a link to the webcast, got only about 145,000 hits.

Network executives and media buyers say that broadcast news suffers online when it is based on the old news model of a strong and authoritative anchor, like Gibson, escorting viewers through the day’s news. Online news consumers prefer to click around, reading and watching only the stories that interest them.

Rival CBS News is also on the verge of a major change, CBS Interactive president Quincy Smith told the “Journal.” In coming weeks, it will unveil a new destination for celebrity news and will be using its pending acquisition of CNET to bolster its news offerings.