Local TV news is getting a new over-the-top stream with NewsON, a startup venture backed by six station groups hoping to capture more dollars from online viewers.
The Atlanta-based venture, formed earlier this year, has launched free, ad-supported apps for mobile and connected-TV devices with content from 118 stations in 90 U.S. markets.
NewsON is owned by the ABC Owned Television Station Group, Cox Media Group, Hearst Television, Hubbard Broadcasting, Media General and Raycom Media. The service features video content from 118 stations in 90 markets, covering about 75% of the country. At launch, participating stations include those of NewsON’s owners as well as stations from Graham Media Group and Tegna (formerly Gannett Broadcasting).
The NewsON service is available for Apple’s iPhone and iPad, Android phones and tablets, and Roku media players and Roku TVs. Users can watch live news, previous broadcasts (up to 48 hours for most stations) and clips.
It’s not the only OTT news game in town: The apps from Silicon Valley startup Watchup offers local news, sports, and weather content from more than 150 media outlets in 100 U.S. markets, via deals with broadcasters including Meredith, E.W. Scripps, Tribune Media, Bonten Media Group, Lilly Broadcasting, Hearst, Calkins Media, Hubbard, Cox Media and McClatchy. Other Watchup content partners include Fox News, PBS Newshour, Bloomberg TV, Univision, the Wall Street Journal and Vox Media.
Local broadcasters are eager to bulk up the Internet side of their businesses. Of total U.S. local broadcast TV advertising revenue in 2014, online represented just 4%, or $800 million, according to estimates by BIA/Kelsey.
The strategy with NewsON is to aggregate local broadcast content under one umbrella brand, with a common set of features. “NewsON expands the reach and relevance of local broadcast news, and delivers a uniquely valuable experience for viewers,” NewsON CEO Louis Gump said in announcing the launch. Gump formerly led mobile-app development efforts at CNN and Weather Channel.
The NewsON apps provide an interactive map to locate local stations. Users can use a timeline-viewing tool to skip to different segments in a broadcast, such as sports or weather, and can view and contribute to real-time tweets about local news.