As it approaches its ninth anniversary, video news network Newsy has ambitious plans for the future, even as it honors its J-school roots.
At its NewFronts presentation on Monday, Newsy announced three new series, a new two-hour live news show, several new advertising deals and a new partnership with data-management platform Tru Optik that will help deliver performance guarantees for clients.
It’s a far cry from Columbia, Mo., and the Missouri School of Journalism, which helped get Newsy off the ground in 2008. E.W. Scripps acquired Newsy in 2014 and immediately began adding resources, producing new series and last year launched a brand studio.
Creating short videos covering national and international news as well as culture and tech, Newsy now has 75 employees and plans to expand to 93 by the end of the summer, said general manager Blake Sabatinelli.
“The goal is to try to go beyond the surface and bring in context,” said Sabatenelli about the live news show that will most likely air from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. ET. “This is not a show with two people sitting behind an anchor desk.”
Most digital video producers rely on mobile to rack up views, but Sabatinelli said, “TV for us is the biggest viewing platform,” with Sling TV being the distributor of choice for most Newsy viewers. Newsy is also on Hulu and available via Roku and smart TVs.
As for the three new series, they include:
- Sold in America, focusing on human trafficking. “It’s an issue that is not especially well covered,” said Sabatinelli. A Newsy team has been traveling the U.S. to document stories of modern-day slavery.
- Dirt Rich, focusing on clean energy. “Some of our most popular content has been about issues of climate change,” he said, adding, “It turns out blue-collar areas are helping lead the boom in renewable energy.”
- Bar City Gamers. From the Columbia newsroom, the series focuses on esports, including a first-of-its-kind scholarship for students studying the genre.
Each series has a four- to six-show season with episodes running around five minutes.
Newsy is also partnering with Tru Optik and Nielsen for audience guarantees.”We’re pairing data from OTT platforms with performance data on content” allowing marketers “to deliver campaigns in the most effective way,” Sabatinelli said.
Sabatinelli has found that while preroll ads “are still a good part of our business,” like other content producers, Newsy is looking beyond traditional ad units. Newsy’s year-old brand studio has worked with GE and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital on campaigns.
“One of the great things about our business is that we’re data-rich,” said Sabatinelli. He also said having Midwest roots—Scripps in Cincinnati and Newsy in Columbia—allows them “to focus on the story and stay humble.”