NBC ‘Today’ Host Al Roker Launches Live-Video Digital Network

Roker Media to develop and distribute shows for Facebook Live, Twitter's Periscope, YouTube, YouNow

Al Roker
Courtesy of NBC

Weatherman and TV personality Al Roker, co-host of NBC’s “Today,” is tapping into the live-streaming zeitgeist with the launch a new venture that will deliver live programming with a range of creative talent.

The newly formed Roker Media will distribute content across live-streaming platforms including Facebook Live — currently a major initiative for the social giant — Twitter’s Periscope, YouTube and YouNow. The company plans to develop and produce live streaming shows and online-purchasing opportunities with talent and brands in lifestyle, food, music, sports and entertainment.

“The tremendous acceleration in the live-stream space makes it the right time to expand our efforts with Roker Media,” Al Roker said in announcing the venture.

Current investors in New York-based Roker Media include Fred Seibert, CEO and founder of Frederator Networks and a former MTV and Nickelodeon executive; Lyor Cohen, CEO of 300 Entertainment and former CEO of Warner Music Group; and marketing exec and angel investor Jamie Robinson.

To launch the live-streaming network, Roker teamed up with JRSportBrief founders JR Jackson and Charlie Stettler. JRSportsBrief has produced over 1,700 episodes and generated more than 78 million views on YouTube, as well as a weekly podcast on CBS Sports and an active YouNow channel.

“There’s a real need for brands to tap into social stars and production teams to make live streams come to life with entertaining content globally,” said Jackson, one of the founding partners of Roker Media.

For the past year, Al Roker’s RokerLabs has worked with talent including entrepreneur and model Camila Alves for her show on Facebook Live, foodie Skyler Bouchard on Periscope and social media star EvieWhy (Evie Yannakidis) on YouNow. RokerLabs and JRSportbrief have incubated several shows on YouNow and are using the platform to build communities around their roster of in-house talent.

“The future of brand marketing and influencer programs is live. Live streaming is a distinct, new category that bridges television and social media,” said Ronald C. Pruett Jr., CEO of Roker Media. “It offers huge audiences, viewer interaction, and commerce opportunities only found through the magic of live streams.”

Al Roker serves as chairman of Roker Media and Fred Seibert will serve as a special adviser. Both will be active in both programming and talent development.