CBS debuts ‘Prime Time’ streaming newscast from one side of Studio 57

CBS News launched its latest streaming program, “CBS News Prime Time” Sept. 6, 2022, using a slightly different take on an existing studio and graphical motif that’s spread across the entire company.

Anchored by former “CBS This Morning” co-host John Dickerson, the newscast is designed to take a more in-depth look at the news through extended interviews with both on-set and remote guests. Packages, which on debut night, were largely replicated from “CBS Evening News,” help set up the conversation. 

Produced from Studio 57, which was updated in January 2022 for use by the streamer, the newscast’s primary background is one of the smaller seamless LED video walls camera left of the primary anchor location used on the CBS News Streaming Network broadcasts, including “CBS News Mornings,” that’s used to showcase a simple virtual set extension depicting additional vertical slatwork and a bokeh view of what is presumably New York City. 

That view contains simulated bezels that are oddly not evenly spaced vertically and notably is not animated. 

This look also featured a simulated frame and knee wall below, creating the feel of a window as opposed to a video wall. 

Even if the background were to be read a video wall, as is suggested by the bezels, it comes across as much smaller than it actually is — creating the sense that the entire wall’s hard scenic was modified. 

Dickerson sits at a curved silver and glass anchor desk that’s been used in both nearby Studio 47 for “CBS Weekend News” and in variations streaming network productions.

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The desk is a bit smaller than the primary one typically used for Studio 57 streaming productions, a model that was first used for a CBS-produced debate before popping up in both Washington, D.C. and various productions in New York.

In-studio guests can join Dickerson at one end of the desk, which allows them to be framed up against a nearby video wall for one-shots. 

During cross-shots of Dickerson and guests, the slatted wall, with the middle of the CBS eye shifted blue, appears, along with one of the video columns used to disguise the space’s structural supports.

For remote interviews, the broadcast can insert the guest’s feed in a large frame with a shape suggested by the curves of the CBS eye logo set against the colorful blurred nightscape, creating the effect of anchor and guest facing each other when shot from a reverse view — something that’s common in TV news.

The crux of the “Prime Time” graphics package is the same as across the rest of the streaming network, with show title inserted in the space above the rectangular bug box. Segment and franchise titles, meanwhile, are inserted to the right of this, just like on other streaming newscasts.

Unique elements, however, include a less solid look that allows the bokeh light effect background to dominate most looks, with the deconstructed eye elements depicted more as outlines. 

The show’s logo sticks with the network’s TT Norms typeface and boxes in the words “Prime Time,” causing them to reversed out in most cases. A stacked version is used in transitions inside the center of the eye logo or by itself on select parts of the set. A horizontal version of the logo, still with the box, appears as a scrolling element behind guests. 

The newscast also uses non-traditional music during its open — a slower, more melodic piece with a gentle beat. 

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