NBC News plans online streaming service to attract younger viewers

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Comcast Corp’s NBC News plans to launch an online streaming service this year as part of its effort to reach younger viewers who prefer to watch their favorite shows online, executives said on Wednesday.

A sign is seen outside the set of the NBC News Today Show at Rockefeller Center in New York City, U.S., November 29, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

NBC News, like other broadcast news outlets, faces an aging audience. The median age of “NBC Nightly News,” for example, is 64 years old, according to Nielsen.

Launching an online streaming service would help attract younger viewers, said Andy Lack, NBC News chairman, in a news briefing at NBC’s offices in New York.

The company has not decided if the service would be subscription-based.

To cater to millennial viewers, NBC has stepped up its focus on growing its digital business. Comcast NBCUniversal invested $500 million in Snapchat owner Snap Inc during its initial public offering.

In July, NBC News launched a twice-daily news show on Snapchat called “Stay Tuned”.

That show has 5 million subscribers, said Nick Ascheim, head of digital at NBC News. It is on track to have 37 million to 38 million unique visitors in March, up from 33 million in February, he said.

Snapchat has 80 million daily active users in North America, according to the company’s fourth-quarter earnings.

Still, the “core audience,” or those viewers coming back for three episodes over the past seven days is increasing - a sign of engagement, Ascheim said.

More than half of the 33 million unique visitors watched the show at least three times in the past week, he said.

NBC is having success with “Stay Tuned” at a time when other programmers have struggled to make money on Snapchat. Late last year, Time Warner Inc’s CNN shut down its daily show on Snapchat just four months after having launched it.

Despite its increased focus on digital, NBC News has no plans to bring any of its content back to Facebook Inc because it does not see it as a friendly environment to news organizations, despite its size, Lack said.

“Facebook doesn’t have value for publishers,” he said.

Facebook was not immediately available for comment.

Reporting by Jessica Toonkel; Additional reporting by David Ingram in San Francisco; Editing by Peter Cooney