NBC Simultaneously Launches News Magazine And iPad App

Most everyone knows that today, Monday, October 31, 2011, is Halloween, but for the folks at NBC it’s a bit more than that as the television network launches Rock Center, their new hour long news magazine featuring Brian Williams. To television viewers Rock Center is yet another attempt at an alternative to CBS’ 60 Minutes, but unlike back in 1968 when 60 Minutes first aired, today’s new television shows need to launch on multiple medias, which leads us to the Rock Center iPad app.

The Rock Center iPad app was added to the iTunes App store today, making it a simultaneous launch which the television show that airs for the first time at 10 AM Eastern tonight. Ironically, one thing I do not see in the Rock Center iPad app is the actual date and air time of the television show; it doesn’t appears as though NBC is not making an obvious link between the two.

What does the Rock Center app provide? You will find short video segments from the show, news articles that appear across NBC’s numerous news web sites, and access to the shows social network accounts on Twitter and Facebook.

While the app works in portrait and landscape, it appears to me that the app was designed to primarily be used in landscape. I did seem some problems where after rotating between portrait and landscape some elements of the app no longer appear.

In the center of the screen you see a rotation of video segments from the show that are about two minutes long. You will not be able to see an entire episode, instead you will only be able to watch small segments of the show made available for the app.

The Rock Center app includes the now obligatory integration with Twitter and Facebook, the buttons for which are visible at the top right corner of the screen. After you tap the Twitter button you see both mentions to @RockCenterNBC and tweets containing the #rockcenter hashtag. Buttons are availabe to follow @RockCenterNBC and Brian Williams (@bwilliams).

Integration with Facebook consists of displaying the Rock Center Facebook profile in a web browser window that is integrated within the app. You can log in to your Facebook account to post something on the Rock Center wall.

The small number of short video segments that the app currently has is disappointing, and during the short time testing the app I saw bugs while it ran on my first generation iPad. Overall I found the app experience to not be compelling enough to make it worth keeping on my iPad, but hopefully NBC will quickly make improvements.