With Social News Show “What’s Trending,” CBS Hopes To Reclaim Cord-Cutters

CBS, trying to bring social media to TV, has created a new social media-powered TV show, What’s Trending. The show airs Tuesday’s at 1 PM ET. Some critics have compared it to Al Jazeera’s The Stream. As Fast Company writer Gregory Ferenstein describes What’s Trending aims to take a evening news-style investigative eye to hot online stories.


Ferenstein writes “The show does have some innovative features, including a weekly video infographic and a partnership with the Webby’s. But, ultimately, like other online sensations, it’ll depend as much on the execution as the content.” What’s Trending is an intersting play for CBS with which has seen poor ratings and the the early departure of Katie Couric from the Evening News.

Host Shira Lazar and Executive Producer Damon Berger are betting that information-addicted young viewers will take the social media craze offline and back to the TV. There’s not much risk here on the part of CBS. As Ferenstein writes, “In many ways, the show isn’t much of a financial bet for CBS News: Sponsor AT&T is flipping most of the bill for regular advertisement space. Lazar and Berger maintain editorial control, oversaw the construction of the new Hollywood studio themselves, and do all the other legwork typical of startup entrepreneurs.” If the show becomes a hit, great. If not, there’s not much lost either.

Although I’m not sure that What’s Happening will be a ratings spectacular, I give credit to CBS for giving something like this a shot. While sources of content are and have been drifting away from traditional TV, as show that links the two is not such a bad idea. Although I have not seen the show yet, according to Ferenstein, the show does have three novel ideas that may help distinguish it: a weekly motion infographic, a weekly spotlight on social good, and a partnership with the Webby’s to highlight Internet savvy from around the web.

I do like the idea of the weekly spotlight on social good and adding the Webby’s aspect might help draw some viewers, ultimately I get the feeling that this show will be a flop. Then again, there’s not a whole lot of other great shows on daytime TV so maybe this show will have some staying power.

Is there a place for a show that brings social media to TV?


2 thoughts on “With Social News Show “What’s Trending,” CBS Hopes To Reclaim Cord-Cutters

  1. I also get the feeling that this show could be a flop. Although, I think the idea from CBS studios is a novel idea as a means to draw viewers back to the television screen and away from social media products only because they have nothing to lose. The question that I have is: who is actually going to commit time to watching this (during the day) when they can use social media instead, which satisfies the same purpose? Seems kind of redundant to me and it also would make me turn to social media more so as a means of collecting information. The unique ideas the show is building itself around do spark interest but I just can’t see how people will sit in front of the TV to watch “what is trending on Twitter.” Maybe its me, but it seems like a gossip stream that could be filled by another day-time TV show. The big question mark for a show like this will be its content and how consistently good it will be to keep the interest of viewers.

  2. I agree with Chris. There is a clear distinction between media and new media. This show would surely be a flop because it is impractical to watch trending of social media on television during the day, when social media is so practical to be used at work. The senior category of people, if their target audience, might do good.

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