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How Streamer NBC News Now Is Being Positioned as the Future of the Network’s News

Super Tuesday at 30 Rock in New York City was a bustling affair. The halls were buzzing with activity as producers, anchors and crew all across NBC readied their wall-to-wall coverage of a predictable yet important event. When all was said and done, a rematch of Donald Trump and Joe Biden was largely assured for the forthcoming presidential election. And if NBC News NOW’s approach to Super Tuesday — as the streaming home of NBC News — was any indication, they’re more than ready for the monumental election ahead.

NBC News NOW — which is a free streaming service distributed across more than 20 platforms — serves as a seamless extension of NBC’s linear programming, and that linear-to-streaming symbiosis is believed to be the key to NBC News’ future.

“The tradition of providing high-quality, free content is in the DNA of NBC and so it’s the future and the past, merged together,” executive vice president of programming Janelle Rodriguez told TheWrap.

NBC News is investing heavily in its streaming service — as the real estate devoted to broadcast news on the linear network becomes more limited due to other programming — and it seems to be working. The network says it is the fastest-growing streaming news network in the U.S., and it views the 2024 election as a way to solidify its standing in a saturated media environment.

The 24/7 streaming service is dedicated to hard news coverage, currently producing 12+ hours of live daily content.

TheWrap peeked behind the curtain of NBC News NOW’s Super Tuesday coverage from inside 30 Rock, where the expansive studio, seasoned anchors, and control room worked together to churn out a high-quality streaming show in line with what is produced regularly on NBC’s linear network. And that’s because it’s the exact same product, just expanded.

Rodriguez, who oversees both network specials and NBC News NOW, credited the success of the collaboration to treating it all as one program and being hands-on in the control room during the process.

“We’re using the same studios, the same control rooms, and are treating it like one big production,” Rodriguez told TheWrap in a recent interview. “It’s really important to me that on the streaming side, the quality of NBC News NOW is the same as on NBC News’ linear broadcast.”

The anchors are on board too, as they demonstrated when putting their election coverage skills to work on Super Tuesday for the streaming service.

“It’s the talent — it’s the team, the correspondents, the reporters, the producers — that our audience knows and trusts,” anchor and NBC News’ senior Washington correspondent Hallie Jackson told TheWrap. “We get to give them a platform to go super deep on Super Tuesday… We get to really put them on a pedestal and show them off, which is super exciting to me.”

“We’re looking at a complete interactive studio. We’re walking all around, and we’re making the night come alive through the best technology,” anchor Tom Llamas said. “It’s just great to have that, the resources and the commitment because streaming is the new frontier.”

NBC News anchors Tom Llamas and Hallie Jackson (NBC News)
NBC News anchors Tom Llamas and Hallie Jackson (NBC News)

NBC News NOW’s Super Tuesday programming kicked off at 5 p.m. ET with special coverage anchored by Jackson and Llamas. The duo anchored a marathon of coverage until 10 p.m. ET, where programming was picked up by the linear network with hosts Lester Holt and Savannah Guthrie. The linear network coverage was also simulcast to NBC News NOW. After an hour of special coverage on NBC News, the programming shifted back to the streamer at 11 p.m. ET from the same studio, featuring “Meet the Press” moderator Kristen Welker, who also anchors “Meet the Press NOW,” which airs daily at 4 p.m. ET.

After all was said and done, Super Tuesday ranked as NBC News NOW’s best primary performance on record.

Llamas told TheWrap that he’s “all in” on NBC News’ streaming endeavor when seeing the investment the network is making for the future.

“If you watch our Super Tuesday coverage, you would not notice the difference between our coverage on streaming and what’s going to be on the network as well,” Llamas added. “It’s the NBC News that I’ve grown up with and I trust.”

Jackson and Llamas also host regular NBC News NOW programs, “Hallie Jackson NOW” and “Top Story” respectively. Both expressed appreciation for a program on the streaming service that allows them to spend more time digging into a well-rounded assortment of news stories.

“We are curating two hours of the biggest and most interesting news of the day, with the best team in the business to cover it all,” Jackson said of her streaming show. “It is different from shows in other ecosystems that are purely looking at things through a political lens.”

“Now, my show allows me to broaden the aperture,” Jackson added. “I love being able to have that breadth of experiences and breadth of storytelling ability and editorial ability for something like special coverage for NBC News NOW and Super Tuesday.”

Llamas noted that there is more time for content in an hour on streaming than what is available on cable and broadcast news, with fewer commercial interruptions.

“The goal of ‘Top Story’ was to show the reach of NBC News,” Llamas continued. “We’re covering politics, we’re covering weather, we’re covering crime … Because of that, I have to be tapped into all those major stories and all those major headlines.”

Rodriguez said that NBC News views the streaming platform as the future of the network as linear audiences continue to dwindle industry-wide, and the growth of NBC News NOW thus far has been “exponential.”

“Part of the reason I think is because of the higher level of quality that we provide users, and we do it for free,” Rodriguez added. “It has been very important to us that we meet viewers where they are on all the different platforms that viewers are going to, but we provide a very high-quality level of journalism for free.”

NBC News NOW isn’t the only streaming news game in town, as broadcast news networks provide products like CBS News Live and ABC News Live. Additionally, cable networks have ventured into providing viewers with a streaming platform like Fox News’ Fox Nation and CNN’s CNN Max.

The NBC linear network operates in complete tandem with NBC News NOW, as “All of our talent, whether they’re anchors or reporters, appear on both the network and NBC News NOW because really we treat it as one,” according to Rodriguez.

The streaming network is free and widely distributed across more than 20 platforms including Peacock, the Amazon Fire News App, Freevee, FuboTV, Google TV, Hulu Live and just about any platform you can shake a stick at, with additional national linear distribution on NBC and international FAST distribution. The platform also garners a younger audience than traditional broadcast and cable news.

NBC News NOW has seen four consecutive years of record growth, with three of its best quarters ever in 2023. Every hour saw year-over-year growth in 2023, making it the strongest year on record for the platform.

NBCNews.com, which houses the live-streaming product, also had a massive year in 2023, ranking ahead of NYTimes.com in the latter half of the year. NBC News NOW benefits from an expansive multi-platform strategy which includes linear programming, streaming, digital, and social media.

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