NBC News to Launch 24/7 Streaming News Service 'Signal'
New streaming video news channel is targeted at cord cutters and cord nevers.
NBC News is the latest media outlet to join the streaming video ranks. Last Wednesday, NBC News announced it would launch Signal, a 24-7 streaming news network by the middle of next year. In addition to streaming Signal online at NBCNews.com, Signal will be available on TV apps, on YouTube, Twitter, PlutoTV and in bundled online channels. NBC News didn’t give a specific launch date but said the network would start broadcasting 24-7 in mid-2019. It is currently offering some programming now on NBCNews.com, in two NBC News apps and a few other platforms.
Though the new channel hasn’t yet launched, 13 staff are already working on Signal, including Rashida Jones, senior vice president for specials at NBC News and MSNBC. Jones will be responsible for programming at Signal. Jones joined MSNBC in 2013 and was promoted to her senior vice president’s position in March 2017, reports Adweek.
“There is a growing segment of people who have never had a cable subscription, but who are just as hungry for smart news as the prior generations of news watchers who have consumed NBC News for decades,” said Nick Ascheim, senior vice president for digital at NBC News Group, in the announcement. “These consumers — who are up-to-date on the headlines but are seeking a deeper understanding of the news of the moment — are increasingly turning to OTT devices for ‘lean back’ news consumption or an on-the-go informative experience and that’s exactly what NBC News Signal will deliver.”
“People get alerts and headlines. They have a sense of what’s happening, but they do not feel deeply informed,” said Ascheim in an interview published by Variety. “We want to bring them some of that depth, some of that context, help them make sense of things.”
According to NBCNews.com, the new Signal will offer coverage that is more informal and conversational, like NBC News’ daily news show Stay Tuned on Snapchat and the seriousness of its evening Nightly News with Lester Holt broadcast. Simone Boyce, a former news anchor from Los Angeles, will be Signal’s evening news host, weekdays at 7 p.m. Eastern. Boyce is already hosting a weekly evening news program on Thursdays for Signal, but that role will expand.
Jones said that, beyond daily news coverage, they will cover topics like e-sports and lunar eclipses, but in a fresh, new way.
“We’re doing it in a way that is much more authentic. You’re not going to see ties and anchor-speak,” said Jones.
Signal will compete for viewers with subscription services like Cheddar, which launched in early 2016, and Fox Nation, which is set to launch on November 27. Both services are available via subscription. Fox Nation is offering subscriptions for $5.99 a month or $64.99 per year.
According to Cheddar’s Medium blog, Cheddar is watched live by more than 6.5 million people per month, and it gets hundreds of millions of video views monthly across is social media platforms. Cheddar broadcasts live on SlingTV, Hulu Live, YouTube TV, Philo, Twitter, Facebook Watch, Pluto, Xumo and other platforms.
As cord cutting continues and cord nevers become daily news consumers, the market is ripe for alternatives to the more traditional news broadcasts some of us grew up with. Younger news viewers don’t want stuffed shirts and anchor desks; they want a more realistic experience from someone they can trust. NBC News could reach that audience, but it needs to carve out a niche that Cheddar is already serving quite well, and without cannibalizing its existing audience.
It will be interesting to see if Signal will become a subscription service like Cheddar and Fox Nation or remain a free streaming service available via existing platforms. We’re guessing that Signal will need the revenue – and loyalty – that a strong subscriber base can provide.