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CBC News is launching a free, ad-supported streaming channel in the fall, with a daily news show led by The National‘s Andrew Chang as its flagship program, the public broadcaster announced Thursday.

The channel will be available to stream 24/7, according to a press release. Chang will step back from The National in August, with co-anchor Adrienne Arsenault taking over hosting duties from Monday to Thursday under a new title, chief correspondent for CBC News.

Ian Hanomansing is the new permanent host of Cross Country Checkup and will continue to host The National on Friday and Sunday.

CBC News editor in chief Brodie Fenlon said the channel will offer the best of CBC’s journalism, with the aim of reaching a younger audience that has migrated to streaming. 

“It will include things like The National and other original programs like The Fifth Estate and Marketplace,” he said. “It will include bundled stories that appear across the country and are put together around certain themes and will include some original programs.”

Starting this fall, The National’s Andrew Chang will lead a new daily news show on an upcoming streaming channel announced by CBC News on Thursday. (CBC)

Targeted ads

The service, known as a FAST channel, is meant to offer a “grid-like, lean-back” TV experience, according to Tom Merritt, a Los Angeles-based technology podcaster who hosts Daily Tech News Show.

FAST channels are an emerging video service in which “you can just put something on, and it will continue to play with ads,” he said.

FAST channels use targeted advertising and rely on that ad-revenue to keep the service free. That has the potential to raise some privacy concerns for users, Merritt said.

The National’s Adrienne Arsenault will take over hosting duties from Monday to Thursday under a new title, chief correspondent for CBC News. (CBC)

“They make more money the better they can target their ads,” he said. “And the way they target their ads the best is to find out as much about who’s watching as possible.”

Fenlon said the channel will be distinct from CBC News Network, with an emphasis on long-form content and stories that have a longer shelf life.

“Part of this streaming strategy actually began by us noticing more than a year ago that a lot of people were watching The National at night on a connected TV, so they were streaming it rather than through traditional cable.”

Ian Hanomansing will be the permanent host of Cross Country Checkup. (CBC)

Try content for free

The benefit of ad-supported channels, Merritt said, is that “viewers can try them out without having to throw down money,” particularly in the case of FAST channels that offer a paid component.

“So it’s a way for folks to get access to television that they might not otherwise be able to afford.”

In Canada, electronics manufacturer Samsung and media-streaming device company Roku are among those with FAST channels. 

Samsung offers its Samsung TV Plus channel on the company’s smart TV. Roku’s FAST channel is available to those who have a Roku TV or device. 

CBC News’ announcement comes a week after the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission renewed CBC’s licensing agreement for an additional five years.

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