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Tegna Extends Quest Network With On-Demand Streaming App

Quest On Demand Tegna
(Image credit: Tegna)

Tegna said its Quest digital multicast network is launching a streaming app that will give viewers access to science, history and engineering programming on demand.

The move follows a similar launch last year of a streaming app for Tegna’s True Crime Network.

Digital multicast networks have grown as viewers have cut the cord and installed antennas to watch over-the-air channels. In addition to Tegna, the E.W. Scripps Co., Nexstar and Sinclair Broadcast Group have multiple multicast networks. The connected TV market is hot now as as well with the number of streaming ad-supported linear channels multiplying.

Also Read: E.W. Scripps Plans to Take Over the Air Nets Over the Top

Tegna acquired 85% of digital networks Quest and Justice from Cooper Media for $77 million in 2019. Quest had launched in 2018. The Justice Network was relaunched at True Crime in 2020. 

Being both over-the-air and on CTV gives brands like Quest two chances to reach viewers and collect ad dollars.

“We feel that the future of these networks is converging,” said Brian Weiss, VP of entertainment programming and multicast networks at Tegna. 

Weiss sees continued growth opportunities in both over-the-air and connected TV delivery. 

“We want to make sure that we’re offering both and while we think the future of television is linear, we feel we have to have a connected TV option for those who are transitioning to on demand,” he said.

An OTT version of Twist, a multicast channel aimed at women Tegna launched in April “could be coming down the road” as well, he said.

Weiss said Tegna is well positioned to grow brands like Quest and Twist. It can use the promotion of both its stations and its digital networks to attract viewers

Also Read: Nexstar’s Rewind TV Makes Debut in 50 Million Homes

Tegna also has Premion, its advanced advertising sales unit. 

“That is a piece that I would not undersell,” Weiss said. “A lot of people are trying to make money in the streaming wars, but monetization is really difficult so having an in-house partner like Premion allows us to sell a lot of inventory and make sure we’re serving ads to our users. It really gives us a good chance to succeed.”

When Tegna added a streaming VOD app to its True Crime network, viewing was a fraction of what the over-the-air network was generating. But the number of viewers, the hours viewed and the percentage of ad inventory fill has grown steadily.

“We need to focus on getting more users more quickly. It’s happening and so we will focus next year on more marketing support. We’re already beginning to use some of our station inventory, specifically where our stations are airing true crime shows.

Tegna got the streaming rights to some of the shows on the over-the-air networks as an add on to the over-the-air rights. It got other programming under revenue share deals more common in streaming. 

Tegna could wind up adding linear channels to its streaming apps, but Weiss warns that it takes a lot of programming to maintain a 24 hour, seven day a week channel. He adds that the over-the-air channels now generate much more revenue than streaming does. “Before we start creating a competing linear channel, we want to make sure we’re making the investment at the appropriate time.”

The Quest streaming app will offer programming including The Aviators, Scrap Kings, Mayday, Huge Moves, Monster Moves, Giant Lobster Hunters, Chasing Monsters and Aussie Gold Hunters. More series will be added in the coming months.

The app will also feature Farpoint Film’s Ice Vikings. For the second season premiering on Quest and streaming in October 2021, Tegna will serve as a co-production partner for season two of the series. The Quest streaming app will also feature documentary originals from Tegna stations, including  Road Trip: Climate Truth from WFAA-TV, Dallas.

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.