NBC is serving up the video news for which it is known – but doesn’t mind if you don’t get it through your TV.
NBC hopes a rising generation of news junkies will turn to its new streaming-video service for the long and short of it all. The new offering, NBC News Now, provides minutes-long news updates called “Briefly’s” as well as in-depth reportage that expands some of the stories TV viewers might see on “Today” or “NBC Nightly News.”
But there’s no morning show, no Sunday public-affairs program and no evening news.
“We want to be the premiere place for viewers who are news junkies – news savvy, digitally savvy, but may not be watching on traditional platforms or have access to cable service,” says Rashida Jones, senior vice president of specials for NBC News and MSNBC, and the executive who is overseeing the new effort. These viewers, she says in an interview, don’t tune in to watch a specific show at a certain time. But they want to keep up on the latest news stories and even spend time watching longer videos about important topics
The free, ad-supported OTT service will be available between 3 p.m. and 11 p.m. eastern Monday through Friday, says Jones, noting that the time-frame fits the pattern of when people tend to turn most heavily to OTT content. Citi has signed on as a sponsor. NBC News also intends for “Now” to also be up and streaming when big breaking events take place and people want information quickly. And it will feature content from across NBC News as well as other NBCUniversal-owned outlets, says Jones.
Now will serve up original content and reporting from across NBC News and from additional NBCU partners. Viewers should not expect to see only quick hits. “Our stories tend to be much longer,” she explains. “We tend to go a little bit deeper into characters” than traditional news programs might have the time to do. “One example of a story that we are doing is a story about gerrymandering. The hook is that on one college campus, if you are in one dorm room, you are in one district and if you are in another, you are in a different one.” For TV counterparts, she adds, “if it doesn’t have anything to do with the news of the day, it can be hard for a traditional show to cover it.”
NBC News joins a crowded field. Most of the nation’s mainstream TV-news outlets are building out streaming-video hubs that complement their existing products
CBS News, for example, has been increasing the number of original documentary programs it runs on CBSN, a video-streaming hub it introduced in 2014. Fox News Channel last year launched the subscription-based Fox Nation, which offers documentary programs, a look at Sean Hannity’s opening monologue from his radio program, a cooking show from “Fox & Friends” co-anchor Steve Doocy and opinions from Tomi Lahren, among other options. ABC News Live aims to give viewers a peek at whatever image and action producers feel is the most compelling at any given time of day. CNN operates Great Big Story, a compendium of interesting and colorful video stories about topics that might be of interest to a younger demographic.
The TV-news outlets are rushing to cater to the needs of a new generation of information aficionados, who don’t need to sit down in front of the big screen in a living room to immerse themselves in the latest headlines. These consumers can get as much from Google News and Twitter as their mothers and fathers take from an hour on CNN or MSNBC. In the U.S., about 93% of adults say they get at least some news via mobile or desktop, according to the Pew Research Center.
In many cases, NBC News Now will “reshape” stories from other NBC News outlets for the tastes of digital video snackers, says Jones. Now reports might have more behind-the-scenes footage and longer shots. Reporters like Simone Boyce and Dasha Burns (above, pictured) will provide stories and Jones says viewers will see regular personnel who will help connect them from one piece to the next throughout the day.
The executive says the only thing that is certain about the new venture is that it is bound to change. “Our hopes on day one is that we’ve have grown exponentially by day 30,” she says.