NBC's Nonstop Changes Flight Path

Interesting shift in strategy for NBC Owned Stations with the group’s Nonstop digital channels.

While president Valari Staab announced she’s putting promotions departments back at the local level (they’d been centralized in New York under former group president John Wallace’s more cost-conscious regime), the move to turn the Nonstop channels into the national Nonstop Network (with local inserts for station news) puts control back at 30 Rock. In fact, NBC Owned Stations announced that Meredith McGinn is v.p. of multi-station local programming–a new title at the NBC stations.

McGinn, who comes from WNBC New York, is charged with “developing national programming to complement new and existing local news and lifestyle content and working to secure station partners in new markets.”

The latter part, about securing station partners outside the NBC owned group, aims to make Nonstop a rival to ABC’s Live Well Network, or the various other digi-nets (This TV, Me-TV, Tuff TV) airing on stations’ dot-twos.

Interestingly, the digi-net space thins out a tiny bit when NBC’s own Universal Sports goes to a subscription model in January.

NBC’s strategic shift with the digital channels is consistent with Staab’s emphasis on main TV channels first, and digital offshoots–whether it’s the web or the Nonstop channels–second. Of the name change she instituted right off the bat, scrapping “NBC Local Media,” she told me: “We are local television stations. I know a lot of people interpreted that as us going backwards on digital initiatives, and I don’t feel that at all. I wanted people to, one, be proud that we own local stations…But also to understand that everything we put across any digital platform comes from those stations. I just wanted to shift the focus back to the stations.”

WNBC launched its Nonstop channel in March 2009. We did a cover story on it (a reader rightly blasted us for referring to Nonstop as a “cable” channel). “This is about evolution,” then-WNBC GM Tom O’Brien told us at the time.

Nonstop evolves again.

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.