Comcast’s NBC News Now is live on Sky U.K. this week and will launch on Virgin Media later this month, making the U.K. the first European territory to have the service on linear programming. The service will be ad-supported.
“The expansion into the U.K. is a natural place for NBC News Now to begin its international expansion ambitions,” Noah Oppenheim, NBC News president, told Variety. “The U.K. is NBC News’ largest market for digital audience outside North America and is a hub of our global news gathering operations and is the home of our NBC News International headquarters.”
The service enters a robust local news market served by local broadcasters BBC, Channel 4 and ITV and international providers including Al Jazeera and Euronews. Following the launch of its streaming service in 2021, CNN withdrew from Virgin Media, BT TV and Freesat but remained on Sky.
“There’s increased demand from viewers for more quality, reliable and trusted voices in news and NBC News Now is the leading and fastest growing streaming news service in the United States, with more live programming than any other service,” Oppenheim said. “While NBC News Now is built for the streaming generation, at the core of what makes the network distinct both here in the U.S. and now internationally is that it’s powered by the global news gathering and reporting standards that NBC News is known for.”
“The respected journalists that bring their trusted reporting and analysis here in the U.S. — Lester Holt, Hallie Jackson, Tom Llamas, Chuck Todd — will now reach new viewers in the U.K., covering domestic and global issues at a time when the role of the press is more important than ever,” Oppenheim said.
In early 2020, Comcast had revealed plans to launch a global news platform with Sky News, but those plans have been delayed indefinitely since the beginning of the pandemic, Variety understands.
“We see a dual opportunity and demand from streaming platforms and traditional TV carriers alike and we will continue to invest in our streaming initiatives and explore ways to bring the success we’ve found here in the U.S. to more viewers globally,” Oppenheim added. “We’re the fastest growing streaming network here in the U.S. and are already available in more than 175 countries via the NBC News app but this expansion with Sky U.K. and Virgin Media will make NBC News Now the first and only U.S. streaming network to be available across linear television in the U.K. at no additional fee to all consumers.”
NBC News Now was launched in 2019. Under chair Cesar Conde, NBCU News Group initiated investments to accelerate its premium streaming programming and platforms, adding hundreds of new jobs and several new live hours of original shows across NBC News Now, Today All Day, and MSNBC’s “The Choice” on Peacock.
In 2021, the streaming network recorded an average of 60 million views and more than 20 million hours watched each month. More recently, with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the week of breaking news marked NBC News Now’s most watched week since the Jan. 6 attack on Capitol Hill and President Joe Biden’s inauguration.