×

Newsy to Launch as Cable TV Channel After E.W. Scripps Buys RLTV Contracts

As traditional TV players keep hunting for new digital inroads, E.W. Scripps’ online news network Newsy is going the other way — it’s landing a spot on the cable TV dial.

E.W. Scripps has acquired carriage contracts from the Retirement Living Television (RLTV) cable network, covering about 26 million U.S. homes. RLTV will shut down this fall, to be replaced by Newsy’s 24-hour linear feed, with a mix of news and talk-show programming aimed at millennials.

Scripps could end up paying as much as $23 million, or up to 93 cents per subscriber, for the RLTV distribution agreements under the deal with RLTV founder John Erickson. The final purchase price is based on the number of subs that come under contract with cable operators — including Comcast, Charter Communications and Altice USA — as RLTV converts to Newsy.

“The reality is, pay TV is still where the money is,” said Adam Symson, president and CEO of E.W. Scripps. “The fact remains that 80% of Americans get their television through some version of pay television. For us to move [Newsy] from OTT into pay TV is part of our belief of how the TV ecosystem will evolve.”

The RLTV agreement is “an incredible deal,” Symson added, noting that comparable distribution-agreement pacts have averaged $4 per sub and as much as $12. The changeover from RLTV to Newsy will happen throughout the fall and into the fourth quarter.

Newsy’s flip to pay TV is not like Vice Media’s launch of Viceland, which involved a brand-new slate of programming. (Viceland took over the slots occupied by A+E Networks’ H2.) The Newsy cable-news network will comprise the same programming feed it already distributes on other over-the-top platforms, and through YouTube TV and Dish Network’s Sling TV.

“We don’t really see a difference between consumers who watch on OTT or on cable,” Symson said. “We have on-demand and linear regardless of the pipe that goes into the back of the TV.”

Scripps is in talks with other distributors to carry the Newsy channel, and Symson expects to expand its reach to about 40 million cable and satellite TV homes by the end of 2018. “I just don’t think these [pay-TV] incumbents are going to sit idly by while other companies try to eat their lunch,” he said. “I think it’s likely other [traditional TV operators] will launch outside their footprints. And Newsy will have contracts with them.”

E.W. Scripps acquired Newsy in 2013 for $35 million. The online news company was founded in 2008 by media consultant and exec Jim Spencer.

The company’s pitch to pay-TV operators is that Newsy fans skew young. For news networks like CNN and Fox News Channel, about 70% of the viewership is over 55. By contrast, about 70% of Newsy’s audience is 25-54, according to E.W. Scripps.

“We think the cable operators are going to need a younger product,” Symson said. “At the end of the day they recognize young people do have a thirst for news and information. But they also know the product lining their shelves doesn’t necessarily help them reach younger subscribers.”

Newsy will continue to offer free, ad-supported video clips on the web, mobile and social media. But to access the live channel and full original series, viewers must subscribe to Newsy through a pay-TV or OTT distributor.

As it gears up for its cable debut, Newsy has bowed evening newsmagazine “The Why” (pictured above), produced from its bureaus in Chicago and Washington, D.C. It also plans to soon launch morning show “The Day Ahead” and newsmaker spotlight program “30 Minutes With.” Based in Columbia, Mo., Newsy currently has a staff of 70. The expanded programming lineup “was anticipating our move into cable,” said Laura Tomlin, senior VP of national media at E.W. Scripps.

For E.W. Scripps, the move into cable with Newsy is a back-to-the-future moment. The company in 2008 spun off cable networks including HGTV and Food Network into Scripps Networks Interactive.

Cincinnati-based E.W. Scripps owns 33 local TV stations and operates an investigative reporting newsroom in Washington, D.C.; its other digital businesses include podcast ad network Midroll Media.

More TV

  • Kamala Harris

    Joe Biden and Kamala Harris Face Rematch in Next Democratic Debate

    Former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris will have the opportunity to square off again in the second debate among Democratic hopefuls vying for their party’s nomination in the 2020 presidential election CNN, which will broadcast the next round of debates on July 30 and 31, televised a draw Thursday night that decided [...]

  • Jon Wax

    Jon Wax Joins Amazon Studios as Head of Genre Programming

    YouTube’s head of scripted programming Jon Wax is joining Amazon Studios as its head of genre programming, Variety has learned. Wax will take up the position recently vacated by Sharon Tal Yguado. He had joined YouTube in August 2017, heading up drama, unscripted and current programming for YouTube’s premium channel. Prior to that, he had [...]

  • South Park Donald Trump

    TV News Roundup: Comedy Central Sets 'South Park' Season 23 Premiere Date

    In today’s TV News roundup, Comedy Central announces the premiere date of “South Park” Season 23 and Netflix sets the premiere date and offers a first look at “Unbelievable.”  DATES Comedy Central announced that Season 23 of “South Park” will premiere Wednesday, Sept. 25 at 10 p.m. Because the episodes are written and animated so [...]

  • US actor Kevin Spacey (C) is

    Kevin Spacey Shouldn't Be Exonerated in Hollywood Even as Criminal Case Ends (Column)

    The news that criminal charges against Kevin Spacey in the Nantucket groping case have been dropped raises an inevitable question: does this mean he can claw his way back into Hollywood’s good graces? Or maybe more importantly: should it?  Spacey’s rapid descent was startling, even as it quickly followed that of the once untouchable producing [...]

  • Game of Thrones

    HBO's Return to Emmy Nomination Dominance May Be Short-Lived (Column)

    As Hollywood braces for the coming streaming wars, HBO’s huge Emmy nomination haul this week sent a new salvo Netflix’s way: The streamer may have the volume, but HBO still has the goods. At least this year. HBO’s record-breaking 137 nominations came on the strength of just 23 programs — led, of course, by “Game [...]

  • Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer

    Starz Nears Realignment: Why Lionsgate Won't Hire a CEO to Replace Chris Albrecht

    Nearly six months after Starz CEO Chris Albrecht exited in February, Lionsgate brass is moving closer to a revamp of the premium TV network’s executive structure. According to insiders, at least one thing is clear: Albrecht is not expected to be replaced as CEO. Instead, Lionsgate chief executive Jon Feltheimer is taking a more active [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content