March 9, 2021
NBC News is debuting two program hours on NBC News Now, its live streaming service. From NBC owned and operated station WRC-TV in Washington, DC, former anchor Aaron Gilchrist will headline a 12:00-2:00 PM slot Monday through Friday that will also be available on NBCUniversal’s streaming hub Peacock. The show will focus on breaking news, supplemented by stories from journalists in the field. The new program boosts NBC News Now to 10 live original hours daily. NBC News also produces “dozens of hours” daily for MSNBC.
Variety reports that NBC News senior vice president Janelle Rodriguez, who will oversee NBC News Now, said to expect other new shows. “We are literally expanding it as quickly as possible,” she said, adding that viewers stay tuned for up to 40 minutes. “People want this. They are coming to us and they are coming to us in huge numbers.”
NBC News isn’t alone in promoting streaming news. ViacomCBS’s Paramount+, which launched last week, proclaimed that its breaking news, including a version of “60 Minutes,” is “a cornerstone of its offerings.” Variety notes that, “as consumers migrate quickly to new streaming services, live news represents one way big media companies like ViacomCBS, Walt Disney, WarnerMedia and Comcast, NBCU’s parent, still have to assemble the large, live audience their advertisers and distributors crave.”
The networks risk cannibalizing their own affiliates and cable and satellite partners, with live broadcasts from such news personalities as Rachel Maddow, Wolf Blitzer and Sean Hannity. To avoid doing so, “streaming outlets like NBC News Now have worked to create a differentiated product that looks little like the news shows to which people have tuned in for decades.”
“The one thing we do on purpose is we are very guest light,” said Rodriguez. “We don’t put opinion people on. We are all about showing the reporters and journalists. It’s the anti-talking head presentation.”
NBC News Now also differentiates itself by producing “longer segments to stories that might only get 90 seconds on more traditional programs that hew to a tight schedule.” In addition to not focusing on politics, NBC is also running “topic-specific specials,” such as one led by Savannah Guthrie on “the effects of the pandemic on young people.” Another special to run soon looks at “how Asian-Americans have been the victims of racism during the coronavirus outbreak.”
Rodriguez added that, although NBC News Now “can’t skimp on the production values that are a hallmark of TV,” it can “break from traditional ways of doing pieces because the audience is really open and expects originality and creativity.”