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CBS News will produce a short-form '60 Minutes' for Jeffrey Katzenberg's Quibi

Stephen Battaglio, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

The analog stopwatch of "60 Minutes" is getting a digital makeover for Quibi, the mobile subscription TV service founded by Jeffrey Katzenberg.

The Los Angeles-based Quibi and CBS News will announce today that "60 Minutes" is producing an original weekly six-minute program called "60 in 6," designed for the new service's target audience of millennial-age online video consumers. The short-form program will have its own stories and correspondents who will be younger than the longtimers who populate the Sunday night TV franchise.

The deal is the second Quibi has made with a broadcast network news division. In July, Quibi announced it would carry a twice-daily NBC News-produced newscast aimed at millennial viewers. The company has also aligned with Walt Disney Co.'s sports media behemoth ESPN, which will provide daily sports programming to the service.

CBS News will receive a license fee from Quibi for the program, the terms of which were not disclosed. The program will launch in April.

For CBS, "60 in 6" is an opportunity to get the 51-year-old franchise in front of younger viewers. Although "60 Minutes" remains one of the most-watched prime-time programs, its audience has been aging. In the 2018-19 TV season, the median age for "60 Minutes" viewers was 64.9.

The producers of "60 Minutes" have historically been reluctant to alter the program's successful formula, which has made it the gold standard in TV journalism. Back in the 1990s, the late founding executive producer Don Hewitt fought hard against doing a second weekly edition of the program, "60 Minutes II," when prime-time newsmagazines were at their peak in viewer popularity.

 

But Bill Owens, the program's current executive producer, said the flight of younger viewers to online video has made it necessary for "60 Minutes" to expand its reach on digital platforms.

"We've got to go where the eyeballs are," Owens said in an interview.

A bite-size version of "60 Minutes" may seem out of character for a program whose segments run 13 minutes or longer.

But Owens said "60 in 6" will have the same reporting and production standards as the Sunday program. A senior producer will be dedicated to the Quibi version who will report to Owens and his deputy Tanya Simon. New correspondents from outside of CBS News will be hired for the program.

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