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CES 2008: NBC Nightly News Grabs Spotlight

Las Vegas -- Various NBC Universal properties such as NBC’s Today and CNBC have been broadcasting from the floor at the 2008 International Consumer Electronics Show here this week as part of NBCU’s role as the “official broadcast partner” of CES.

Wednesday afternoon, it was Brian Williams’ turn to man the NBCU booth at the Las Vegas Convention Center, as he anchored NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams from there at 3:30 p.m. (PST).

A crowd of about 200 attendees gathered in respectful silence around the NBC set as Williams read the day’s news. Williams finished off the broadcast by joining NBC correspondent George Lewis to take a look at some cutting-edge products introduced at CES, including Sony’s 11-inch OLED (organic light-emitting diode) ultra-thin display and LG Electronics’ cell-phone and personal-navigation devices that use the “MPH” mobile-TV technology it developed with Harris.

After staying late on-set to deliver a news update on New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson’s exit from the presidential race, Williams then joined Nightly News executive producer Alex Wallace, president Charlie Tillinghast and East Coast deputy editor Randy Stearns on the other side of the NBCU booth to officially unveil the new Nightly News Web site.

Williams said that since the days of the Big Three networks dominating news coverage with their evening broadcasts are over, exploiting the Web is a vital component of staying relevant to consumers.

“You have to create a new model,” he added. “You have to think of this as an electronic continuation of the broadcast we have on-air.”

The new site features a high-quality Flash player that breaks the show into individual segments, offers reams of additional Web-exclusive video and allows viewers to create their own customized play list of segments they are interested in. It also has a community feature called “NewsVine” that lets viewers give feedback and ask Williams questions.

“This is not really just about time-shifting, it’s about providing a fully in-depth, interactive experience,” Stearns said.

Williams agreed and said that a major goal is using the new site to show full-length interviews, such as Williams’ sit-down Tuesday with Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), and longer stories from field reporters like Richard Engel and Andrea Mitchell that can’t fit into a 30-minute broadcast.

“We throw so much over the side, it’s not fair [to them],” Williams added.