NBC News Now Expands Live OTT Programming

NBC News is gearing up its streaming service, NBC News Now as the 2020 Presidential campaign heats up.

NBC News Now, which is free and ad supported, was soft launched several months ago and, effective Wednesday, it will be programming more hours of live programming. The programming expands to 8 hours a day, calling on both its own staff of new faces, as well as familiar names from the organization’s broadcast and cable newscasts.

The expansion will be backed by extensive promotion on NBC News platforms, including the NBC News app, one of the ways viewers can access NBC News Now. Eventually the service plans to be live 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Related: NBC to Launch Streaming News Service in Early May

NBC News Now follows streaming news services launched by CBS and NBC. As more viewers cut the cord and over-the-top viewership grows, attracting advertiser attention, media companies are increasingly interested in expanding their direct-to-consumer streaming businesses.

NBC News Now is available via NBCNews.com/now, the NBC News mobile app and on the NBC News app on OTT devices, including Apple TV, Roku and Amazon Fire TV. The company says it will have additional distribution later this summer.

The executive in charge of NBC News Now, Rashida Jones, senior VP of specials for NBC News and MSNBC, says that most of the people watching NBC News Now are watching via connected TVs. While the service was still too new to have reliable viewership numbers, those viewers are younger--in their 20s to 40s--than broadcast or cable news viewers, she said, but they’re still “news junkies”’ who want to feel informed and up to date.

Sponsors include Citi. The service will have about two minutes of ads per hour. It will be sold standalone and in packages, particularly with other digital news products that attract millennial audience, such as the Stay Tuned show on Snap and the Make It franchise on CNBC.

NBC News Now has about 20 dedicated staffers with people from other parts of the company contributing content and technical work. Erica Fink is executive producer of programming and Christine Cataldi is contributing executive producer for NBC News.

Since launch, NBC News Now has been experimenting with programming approaches and has found that viewers have an appetite for longer pieces of content, with more of a conversational tone as reporters take viewers with them as they explain why things are happening.

“We discovered people are interested in going a little bit deeper on topics,” Jones said.

The service will also have live coverage of breaking news, hourly updates called Brieflys and live reports from the field using mobile phones and other camera formats.

NBC News Now is being opportunistic, ramping up with programming and promotion just before NBCU’s MSNBC and Telemundo are set to televise the first big debate among Democratic Presidential candidates on June 26 from Miami.

NBC News Now will air pre-debate and post-debate programming. Going forward it will continue to look for big events it can program ground, Jones said.

“In addition to our daily content in our daily feed, this is also a place for those big events where people will be able to watch and consume content who aren't used to watching on the other platforms,” she said. “It just opens a whole new door for that audience.”

NBC News Now’s expanded live programming will air from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m., which is when the largest pool of potential OTT viewers are available to watch. Most of those viewers aren’t watching broadcast or cable for news.

“We want to be the place where people go when there’s breaking news,” Jones said. “We want to be able to see more people are watching longer.”

In addition to original programming, NBC News Now takes advantage of being part of NBC News by repurposing interviews and stories that have appeared on Today or MSNBC. It is also talking to NBC Sports and E! About ways to get more sports, entertainment and lifestyle programming.

“The team across the board has been really excited to contribute to this,” said Jones. “Everyone sees the opportunity any reporter gets to take a story they worked on for one platform and do a longer, more in-depth, version of it on another platform.”

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.