As a result of the Viacom/CBS corporate split, as well as other acquisitions over recent years, CBS (under the moniker CBS Studios) owns a massive film and television library spanning nine decades; these include acquired material from Viacom and CBS in-house productions and network programs, as well as programs (many originally produced by Paramount and others) originally aired on competing networks (such as ABC and NBC). Shows and other material in this library include among others, I Love Lucy, The Honeymooners, The Twilight Zone, Hawaii Five-O (both the original and current remake), Gunsmoke, The Fugitive, The Love Boat, Little House on the Prairie (U.S. television rights only), Cheers, Becker, Family Ties, Happy Days and its spin-offs, The Brady Bunch, Star Trek, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (distribution rights on behalf of copyright holder Lucasfilm), Evening Shade, Duckman, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and its spin-offs, the CBS theatrical library (including My Fair Lady and Scrooge), and the entire Terrytoons library from 1930 forward.
CBS's master feed is transmitted in 1080i high definition, the native resolution format for CBS Corporation's television properties. However, seven of its affiliates transmit the network's programming in 720p HD, while seven others carry the network feed in 480i standard definition either due to technical considerations for affiliates of other major networks that carry CBS programming on a digital subchannel or because a primary feed CBS affiliate has not yet upgraded their transmission equipment to allow content to be presented in HD.
CBS began its conversion to high definition with the launch of its simulcast feed, CBS HD, on September 1998 at the start of the 1998–99 season. That year, the network aired the first NFL game ever broadcast in high-definition, with the telecast of the New York Jets–Buffalo Bills game on November 8. The network gradually converted much of its existing programming from standard-definition to high definition beginning with the 2000–01 season, with select shows among that season's slate of freshmen scripted series being broadcast in HD from their debuts. The Young and the Restless became the first daytime soap opera to broadcast in HD on June 27, 2001.
On September 1, 2016, when ABC converted to a 16:9 widescreen presentation, CBS and The CW were the only remaining networks which frame their promotions and on-screen graphical elements for a 4:3 presentation, though with CBS Sports's de facto 16:9 conversion with Super Bowl 50 and their new graphical presentation designed for 16:9 framing, in practice most CBS affiliates ask pay-TV providers to pass down a 16:9 widescreen presentation by default over their standard definition channels. This continued for CBS until September 24, 2018 when the network converted its on-screen graphical elements to a 16:9 widescreen presentation for all non-news and sports programs; although it still operates on a 4:3 presentation for the CBS Dream Team block.
Both CBS Corporation and the new Viacom are owned by National Amusements, the Sumner Redstone-owned company that controlled the original Viacom prior to the split. As such, Paramount Home Media Distribution (formerly Paramount Home Entertainment) continues to handle DVD and Blu-ray distribution for the CBS library.
Having assembled all the elements of a communications empire, Viacom found that the promised synergy was not there; in 2005, Viacom announced that it would split the company into two separately operated but commonly controlled entities. CBS became the center of a new company, CBS Corporation. The legal successor to the old Viacom, the company's properties included the broadcasting entities (CBS and UPN, the latter of which later merged with Time Warner-owned the WB to form the CW; the Viacom Television Stations Group, which became CBS Television Stations; and CBS Radio); Paramount Television's production operations (now known as CBS Television Studios); Viacom Outdoor advertising (renamed CBS Outdoor); Showtime Networks; Simon & Schuster; and Paramount Parks, which the company sold in May 2006. The other company, which retained the Viacom name, kept Paramount Pictures, assorted MTV Networks, BET Networks, and Famous Music (the latter of which was sold to Sony/ATV Music Publishing in May 2007).
In 1952 the Columbia Broadcasting System formed an in-house television production unit, CBS Productions (commonly referred to as The CBS Television Network), as well as facilities in the newly established CBS Television City in the Fairfax District in West Los Angeles. Also formed is CBS Television Film Sales (later known as CBS Films) as the distributor of off-network and first-run syndicated programming to local television stations in the United States and abroad.
Original programs expected to air on CBS All Access include a new Star Trek series, a spin-off of The Good Wife, and an online version of Big Brother.
In 1963, CBS Studio Center is established in Studio City district of Los Angeles in the San Fernando Valley. Later in 1971, CBS Films is spun off as Viacom International, Inc. The company is re-established as CBS, Inc., in 1974. In 1978, the production unit gained the secondary/alternate name CBS Entertainment Productions.
On October 28, 2014, CBS launched CBS All Access, an over-the-top subscription streaming service – priced at $5.99 per month ($9.99 with the no commercials option) – which allows users to view past and present episodes of CBS shows. Announced on October 16, 2014 (one day after HBO announced the launch of its over-the-top service HBO Now) as the first OTT offering by a USA broadcast television network, the service initially encompassed the network's existing streaming portal at CBS.com and its mobile app for smartphones and tablet computers; CBS All Access became available on Roku on April 7, 2015, and on Chromecast on May 14, 2015. In addition to providing full-length episodes of CBS programs, the service allows live programming streams of local CBS affiliates in 124 markets reaching 75% of the United States.
Network News Service (NNS) is a pioneering news organization formed by ABC NewsOne, CBS Newspath and Fox NewsEdge. Launched in June 2000, its subscriber list already includes more than 500 ABC, CBS and Fox affiliates throughout the United States. The three news distributors created NNS to cost-effectively pool resources for developing and delivering second tier news stories and b-roll footage. The goal was to realize cost savings in the creation and distribution of these news images, while news organizations and member television stations continued to independently develop and deliver their own signature coverage of top news stories.
CBS All Access offers the most recent episodes of the network's shows the day after their original broadcast, as well as complete back catalogs of most of its current series and a wide selection of episodes of classic series from the CBS Television Distribution program library, to subscribers of the service. CBS All Access also carries behind-the-scenes features from CBS programs and special events.
CBS Newspath is CBS News' satellite news-gathering service (similar to CNN Newsource). Newspath provides national hard news, sports highlights, regional spot news, features and live coverage of major breaking news events for affiliate stations to use in their local news broadcasts. The service has a team of domestic and global correspondents and freelance reporters dedicated to reporting for affiliates, and offers several different national or international stories fronted by reporters on a daily basis. CBS Newspath also relies heavily on local affiliates sharing content. Stations will often contribute locally obtained footage that may be of national interest. It replaced a similar service, CBS News NewsNet.
In May 1942, WCBW (like almost all television stations) sharply cut back its live program schedule and cancelled its newscasts, as the station temporarily suspended studio operations, resorting exclusively to the occasional broadcast of films. This was primarily due to the fact that much of the staff had either joined the service or were redeployed to war-related technical research, and to prolong the life of the early, unstable cameras which were now impossible to repair due to the lack of parts available during wartime. In May 1944, as the war began to turn in favor of the Allies, WCBW reopened its studios and resumed production of its newscasts, which were briefly anchored by Ned Calmer, and then by Everett Holles. After the war, WCBW (which changed its call letters to WCBS-TV in 1946) introduced expanded news programs on its schedule – first anchored by Milo Boulton, and later by Douglas Edwards. On May 3, 1948, Edwards began anchoring CBS Television News, a regular 15-minute nightly newscast on the rudimentary CBS television network, including WCBS-TV. Airing every weeknight at 7:30 p.m., it was the first regularly scheduled, network television news program featuring an anchor (the nightly Lowell Thomas NBC radio network newscast was simulcast on television locally on NBC's WNBT (now WNBC) for a time in the early 1940s and Hubbell, Calmer, Holles and Boulton on WCBW in the early and mid-1940s, but these were local television broadcasts seen only in the New York City market).
Upon becoming commercial station WCBW in 1941, the pioneer CBS television station in New York City broadcast two daily news programs, at 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. weekdays, anchored by Richard Hubbell. Most of the newscasts featured Hubbell reading a script with only occasional cutaways to a map or still photograph. When Pearl Harbor was bombed on December 7, 1941, WCBW (which was usually off-the-air on Sundays to give the engineers a day off), took to the air at 8:45 p.m. that evening with an extensive special report. The national emergency even broke down the unspoken wall between CBS radio and television. WCBW executives convinced radio announcers and experts such as George Fielding Elliot and Linton Wells to come down to the station's Grand Central Station studios during the evening, and give information and commentary on the attack. Although WCBW's special report that night lasted less than 90 minutes, that special broadcast pushed the limits of live television in 1941 and opened up new possibilities for future broadcasts. As CBS wrote in a special report to the FCC, the unscheduled live news broadcast on December 7 "was unquestionably the most stimulating challenge and marked the greatest advance of any single problem faced up to that time". Additional newscasts were scheduled in the early days of the war.
Forming the CBS Musical Instruments division, the company also acquired Fender (1965–1983), Electro-Music Inc. (Leslie speakers) (1965–1980), Rogers Drums (1966–1983), Steinway pianos (1972–1985), Gemeinhardt flutes, Lyon & Healy harps (in the late 1970s), Rodgers (institutional) organs, and Gulbransen home organs. The company's last musical instrument manufacturer purchase was its 1981 acquisition of the assets of then-bankrupt ARP Instruments, a developer of electronic synthesizers.
In 1950, the nightly newscast was retitled Douglas Edwards with the News, and the following year, it became the first news program to be broadcast on both coasts, thanks to a new coaxial cable connection, prompting Edwards to use the greeting, "Good evening everyone, coast to coast" to begin each edition. The broadcast was renamed the CBS Evening News when Walter Cronkite replaced Edwards in 1962. Edwards remained with CBS News as anchor/reporter for various daytime television and radio news broadcasts until his retirement on April 1, 1988.
In 1949, CBS offered the first live television coverage of the proceedings of the United Nations General Assembly. This journalistic tour-de-force was under the direction of Edmund A. Chester, who was appointed to the post of Director for News, Special Events and Sports at CBS Television in 1948.
It is widely held that, between 1965 and 1985, the quality of Fender guitars and amplifiers declined significantly. Encouraged by outraged Fender fans, CBS Musical Instruments division executives executed a leveraged buyout in 1985 and created Fender Musical Instruments Corporation. At the same time, CBS divested itself of Rodgers, along with Steinway and Gemeinhardt, all of which were purchased by holding company Steinway Musical Properties. The other musical instrument manufacturing properties were also liquidated.
On February 15, 2011, CBS announced that the network would be relaunched as CBS Sports Network on April 4 (coinciding with the end of the 2011 NCAA basketball tournament), repositioning it as a mainstream sports network in the same vein as ESPN.